Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Disgraced
Asolo Repertory Theatre
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule


Lee Stark, Dorien Makhloghi, Bianca Laverne Jones, and Jordan Sobel
Photo by Gary M. Sweetman
Asolo Repertory Theatre is presenting Ayad Akhtar's Pulitzer Prize winning play Disgraced at the Historic Asolo Theater, perfectly directed by Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards. The play received acclaimed runs at Lincoln Center and on Broadway, and has been enjoying frequent productions all over the country this season.

Dorien Makhloghi is well nigh perfect as Amir, a Pakistani lawyer who has sublimated his religious heritage for the sake of career advancement. Lee Stark plays Amir's wife Emily, an up and coming artist interested in Islamic themes. She originated this role in the world premiere production in Chicago. Bianca LaVerne Jones is Jory, another attorney in competition with Amir for a partnership at their law firm, and Jordan Sobel plays Isaac, Jory's husband and an art curator interested in Emily's work. Rounding out the cast is Nik Sadhnani as Amir's nephew Abe.

I had been surprised to read negative reviews of other regional productions, but I can understand how it could go awry. The center of the play is a dinner party given by Amir and Emily for Jory and Isaac that turns ugly. If it's allowed to be explosive the way large parts of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf are, with the audience left feeling that the characters are completely destroyed at the end, then Disgraced has a chance to feel like a melodrama instead of the deeply nuanced work that it is. Michael Donald Edwards keeps his cast slightly underplaying, the rage tangible but under control. The final moments of this scene are absolutely horrifying because Edwards has left room for the tension to grow. It is simply stunning on every level; rarely have I felt so shattered at the end of a scene.

All of the elements of the production—scenic design by Reid Thompson, costume design by Beth Goldenberg, lighting design by Jen Schriever, and projection design by Michael Clark—are at the high levels usually offered by Asolo Rep, but this production belongs to director Michael Donald Edwards.

Disgraced, presented by Asolo Repertory Theatre through April 24, 2016, at the Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, Florida. For performance and ticketing information, visit www.asolorep.org or call 941-351-8000.

Cast: (in order of appearance)
Emily: Lee Stark*
Amir: Dorien Makhloghi*
Abe: Nik Sadhnani
Isaac: Jordan Sobel
Jory: Bianca LaVerne Jones*
*=Member of Actors' Equity Association

Directed by Michael Donald Edwards
Scenic Design: Reid Thompson
Costume Design: Beth Goldenberg
Lighting Design: Jen Schriever
Sound Design: Ryan Rumery
Projection Design: Michael Clark
Fight Director: Bruce LeCure
Hair/Wig & Make-Up Design: Michelle Hart
Stage Manager: Nia Sciarretta
Dramaturg: Lauryn E. Sasso
Creative Consultant: Peter Amster


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