Salt Lake Acting Company: The Persian Quarter 

Through Feb. 27 @ Salt Lake Acting Company

click to enlarge art13263widea.jpg
World events have conspired to make the world premiere of Kathleen Cahill’s The Persian Quarter feel urgent and timely. But it didn’t take a Middle Eastern revolution to make this production revelatory.

Cahill interweaves multiple timelines into the narrative, with the first act largely devoted to the interaction in January 1981 Tehran between American teacher Ann (Nell Gwynn, pictured above left), an American hostage, and one of her captors, Shirin (played by Deena Marie Manzanares, a City Weekly contributor, pictured above right). Nearly 30 years later, Ann’s daughter Emily (also played by Gwynn) and Shirin’s daughter Azadeh (also Manzanares) meet at Columbia University, with no awareness of the history between them.

The story also flashes briefly to the plotting of an American agent (Josh Thoemke) to overthrow the Iranian government and install the Shah in the 1950s, while also integrating the Sufi mystic poet Rumi (Shane Mozaffari) into the action. The result is a terrific exploration of the way two nations perceive the same chain of events, as well as the almost willful ignorance Americans tend to bring to any encounter with other-ness.

That notion gets its human face—two human faces, really—in Nell Gwynn’s remarkable pair of performances. While director Andra Harbold’s direction allows us to see Gwynn changing from Ann into Emily, Gwynn inhabits both women as two completely different manifestations of the same narrow-mindedness—one a true-believer patriot, the other a politically disinterested photographer for US Weekly. She’s the most impressive part of a theatrical work that will still speak to how we define “freedom” in coming years, no matter the headlines of the moment.

The Persian Quarter @ Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522, through Feb. 27, $23-$38. SaltLakeActingCompany.org

Pin It
Favorite

More by Scott Renshaw

Latest in Entertainment Picks

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

‚Äč

Readers also liked…

  • Essentials: Entertainment Picks Jan. 1-7

    The 1990s are back for the University of Utah men's basketball program, so put on your Andre Miller throwback jersey, pop a mixtape of your favorite grunge tunes in your Walkman and roller-blade on over to the Huntsman Center.
    • Dec 31, 2014
  • Essentials: Entertainment Picks Jan. 22-28

    The Sundance Film Festival brings a party atmosphere to Salt Lake City every year, and SB Dance wants to bring a local flavor to that party.
    • Jan 21, 2015

© 2016 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation