“Selling Kabul” at Signature Theatre focuses on a family navigating the dynamics of war. Now playing until April 2.
Silence is the breeding ground for tension. Carefully scripted and brilliantly performed, “Selling Kabul” uses tension and emotion to tell a jarring story of the human experience after U.S. troops withdrawal from Afghanistan during the war.
It’s 2013 and Taroon (Mazin Akar) is an English translator stranded in Afghanistan. He’s awaiting his visa on broken technology and hiding from the Taliban in his sister’s apartment. On this particular night, the birth of his son across the city and the Taliban’s increasing watch on the family has emotions running high.
On stage with Taroon and his sister Afiya (Awesta Zarif), is her husband, Jawid (Yousof Sultani) and their next-door neighbor, Leyla (Neagheen Homaifar).
The cast of four easily commanded the audience. Uncomfortable silences had people shifting in their seats. Unceremonious movements across the stage and the raising of voices had people hunkering down and holding their heads. This tension was deliberate and powerful.
In between bouts of situational comedy and mindful dialogue, there is an underlying feeling of doom. Akar, Zarif, Sultani and Homaifar were able to turn a one-room set into a dramatic, nerving performance that puts the audience in the battle between Afghanistan and the United States.
“Selling Kabul” also carries themes that connect with the audience, even if they don’t relate to the situation: the unconditional love for family, fatherhood, obligatory versus chosen love and desire for the unknown.
The different dynamics and cultural and circumstantial elements were also incredibly put together. Each relationship was carefully tended to and each line revealed a more captivating story, up until the last word of the play. And subtle actions such as turning on the fan to disguise conversation or serving tea after someone’s arrival (a tradition in Afghanistan), added to the world in which the audience was immersed in.
The cast, playwright Sylvia Khoury, director Shadi Ghaheri and the rest of the creative crew tell a compelling story of love and loss in an uncontrollable world.
Performances of “Selling Kabul” run through April 2 at the Signature Theater. Tickets can be purchased at sigtheatre.org.
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