This one-woman play purports to reveal the subtle pressures that turn a healthy middle-class American girl into a bomb-carrying terrorist. Annika Marks is excellent when portraying an ingenuous child, then a trusting teenager exposed to a deviant Christian minister, and finally when in college falling in love with a fellow student, a Muslim from India. Even though he physically assaults her, when he declares his undying love she believes him.
After she joins his Muslim faith she is appalled to realize that, while his people are good, other religions and societies are evil and threatening. As she reads about atrocities against Muslims, she hardens her heart against her own American people and determines to fight back by blowing them up.
I believe author Wendy Graf’s intentions are good – at least I hope so – but the skill in her writing makes us empathize with this young woman, which leads us to sanction her attempts to blow up symbols of persecution against her people. Because it resonates with dramatic reality, at times it felt that we in the audience were also being indoctrinated.
This world premiere launch is produced by Alan Naggar of InterACT Theatre Company, and directed with bold intensity by Anita Khanzadian. Dynamic sound by Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski, lighting by Carol Doehring and costumes by Amanda Antunes.
At The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, through July 26. Tickets: (818) 765-8732 or www.InterACTla.org.
Photos by Rick Friesen.