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Seeing Islam through different eyes

User ContributedTheatreReviews

Award-winning play 'Disgraced' brings a raw perspective of Islam in the American dream.

Threading blurred lines between reality and perception can bring chaos into a picture perfect life.

Conceptualised by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar, Disgraced explores the integration of Muslims in the "new America" without borders.

Amir (Gaurav Kripilani), a lawyer of Muslim upbringing, battles with self-loathing of his heritage. When his wife Emily (Jennifer Coombs), an artist who creates Islamic-inspired art, has an affair with a Jewish curator and lands a place on an art gallery, his worst fears manifests.

AMIR, IN HIS SIGNATURE $600 SUIT, IN DISGRACED.

Plagued by secrets of social change and identity shifts, Amir seeks to renounce and abandon Islam, blaming it for his callous behavior and mindset. Set in New York's upper class neighbourhood, he is vocal about his indifference to Jews and to America, which ultimately costs him his job as a partner at a law firm.

However, Emily refuses to see him eye to eye and romanticises Islam. She even compares it to the universality of the Greeks and Romans. Amir rejects her view completely and her Islamic art, saying: "Angels don't enter places with pictures…and dogs."

During the celebration of Emily's debut of her Islamic art at an art gallery, Amir discovers her affair with the curator. Describing the Qu'ran as "one long hate mail letter", his perception of Islam being violent and backward manifests through him as he beats his wife.

Amir then moves out of the apartment he shared with Emily, feeling self-guilt and disgust. Emily then realises that her work made her blind to her illusional love for him.


AMIR (LEFT) WITH HIS WIFE, EMILY (CENTRE), AND HIS NEPHEW, ABE (RIGHT).

Disgraced also unravels the complicated paradigm shift of America today.

When I asked the director and actors how they balanced their portrayal of Islam in the play, Ghafir Akbar, who played Abe, Amir's nephew, answered: "It's not about a right or wrong presentation of Islam. It's about looking through the eyes of the characters, and seeing Islam in their perspectives."

Identity was definitely one of the biggest themes of the play, and it depicted how immigrants easily lost themselves in the American dream.

I was moved by how the play explored the role of women and modesty in Islam. To the outsider, the play implies that wearing the burqa (veil) erases the face, the woman, and her individuality. Is it true or a false perception?

Disgraced definitely gave the audience food for thought, and a deeper showcase of the complexity of culture and identity today. If you're looking for a genuine view beyond the stigma of Islam in America, Disgraced offers a panoramic insight.

★★★★☆
Rating: 4/5

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