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Strait of Gibraltar

a Drama
by Andrea Lepcio

COMPANY : Synchronicity Performance Group [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Ansley Park Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 5055

SHOWING : March 31, 2017 - April 23, 2017



The world premiere of "Strait of Gibraltar" by Andrea Lepcio is a sexy romance turned terrorism thriller. Miriam, a Jewish woman, and Sameer, a Muslim man from Morocco, meet at a party and fall in love at first sight. When Sameer tells Miriam he’s undocumented, she offers to help, but is everything as it seems? A smart, riveting play that looks at love, truth, prejudice, and civil rights in the age of the Patriot Act.

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A Message Play
by playgoer
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Love at first sight between a Jew and a Muslim. A Jewish woman who happens to have written a full-length book in school discussing the Jewish state of Israel. A Muslim man whose soccer connections implicate him in a terrorist cell. The lesbian predicament that involves them in a suspect financial transaction. All point to a playwright who has attempted to overstuff her plot with hot-button issues that will improve its chances of getting produced. Synchronicity’s production of "Strait of Gibraltar" proves that the strategy worked.

The action takes place on Elizabeth Jarrett’s modular set, with screens, bookcases, and window and door units reconfigured to suggest the various locations required by the script, occasionally dressed by Elisabeth Cooper’s props. Long scene changes are covered by Kevin Frazier’s sound selections and Amanda Sachtlieben’s montage-like projections. Kevin Frazier’s lights come up in slightly different configurations for each of the scenes. It’s all professional, but slightly ponderous. The first act starts to drag before its cliffhanger ending.

Rachel May has directed the show with a surfeit of humorless sincerity. The role of a Jewish mother is played by Kathleen Wattis with no hint of the comedy inherent in the writing. Other casting problems exist. Tripp (a lawyer whose nickname derives from the "III" after his name) is played by black actor Brian Smith, which makes little sense when the stereotypically prejudiced mother indicates without irony that her daughter should be romantically involved with him instead of a Muslim. Double-casting of Mr. Smith and Suehyla El-Attar in diametrically opposed roles in back-to-back scenes causes initial confusion as scenes start, with no help from Hollis Smith’s nondescript costumes.

Performances of the leads are quite good. Benjamin Dewitt Sims, as the Muslim Sameer, is completely believable throughout and gives a nicely calibrated performance. Maggie Birgel, as the Jewish Miriam, fills her role with great grace, even knitting as she delivers her lines. The final moment of the play lands with a thud, though, with the optimism of the moment in complete contrast to the bureaucratic terror that has wreaked havoc in the lives of the characters in the second act. Attempting to layer a human love story on top of the polemics the play examines ultimately doesn’t fly. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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