‘English’ is one of the best plays in New York right now

Finally, analyze the text that Shakira“Whenever, Anywhere” worthy. As a character in a play by Sanaz Toossi English musing as the song plays, Andes “The longest mountain in the world. Many died in the Andes. But Shakira would climb the Andes to count the freckles on her body. This man probably has a lot of freckles. We do not know.”

Few of the gems stand out — it’s the plays that pop, shimmer, and captivate the audience so much that you feel absolutely delicious, creating a two-way explosion in the room as the performance goes on. The actors and the spoken word reach out to the audience, and the audience, wrapped and absolute in the area created by the company, does the same.

Englishopening tonight at Atlantic Theater Company (until March 22) in a co-production with the Roundabout Theater Company, is one such gem. This reviewer’s advice is pretty straightforward. Book tickets — a work finely written, beautifully acted and lasting an hour and forty-five minutes in the theater awaits.

Englishdirected by Knud Adams, is a comedy about five Iranians learning English in a classroom in Karaj, Iran in 2008, and a film about five conflicting personalities – interrogating how the concepts of language, identity, and homeland intersect. Is learning English an important way to broaden the world and its horizons, or is it descending, cloaking, a nod to Western cultural hegemony, even a trap?

On the whiteboard of the English classroom, the fortieth teacher Marjan (Marjan Neshat) wrote the title of the course: “TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language Reading Writing Listening Speaking,” underlined the instruction manual. for any class discussion: “English only.” Marsha Ginsberg’s design is a rotating square that contains the rotating classroom so we can see it from different angles, as well as a basic exterior porch. Reza Behjat’s lighting is also simple and effective, somehow conveying the blazing midday heat and the softer golden glow of the end of the day.

Toossi, winner of the 2020 Steinberg Playwright Award and the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award, created a very specific small group of students.

Elham (Tala Ashe, the best spiked variety), in her late 20s, wants to major in gastroenterology in Australia. This is her fifth attempt at such a class, and she wants to pass it on to become a teaching assistant to earn money on her journey out of the country. However, Elham was not only tired of the failed attempts, but questioned what the goal of the class was.

Roya (Pooya Mohseni), in his 50s, has a son who lives in Canada with a Western wife; Roya wants to be fluent in English so that she can talk to her grandson.

The handsome and languid Omid (Hadi Tabbal) is the only man in his class and the one whose English proficiency far exceeds his classmates. He and Marjan have always been encouraging and also acutely attracted to each other, an attraction partly rooted in their experience of enjoying speaking English, and somehow communicating between the two worlds, and the words and experiences appear in them. Goli (Ava Lalezarzadeh) is just 18 years old, and someone who doesn’t seem burdened with all the big questions and cultural discontents the class elicits in others. She just wants to learn and enjoys doing so.

For a game with language at its center, English works in some smart language registrations. Sometimes it positions its humor or seriousness in the space between the words students use and the exact English they are trying to master. Everyone except Omid’s English is on pause; but when they broke into Farsi – where Marjan kept the forbidden checklist on the whiteboard – the actors conveyed their fluency and relief to become fluent, by speaking American as fast as rod.

Classes are made up of fixed conversations about their lives, the game in which a ball is thrown from character to character as they come up with words that refer to things that are green , or items of clothing, or things you find in the classroom. They listened to audio tapes of Americans discussing basketball games and wedding plans, and then were asked questions to test their understanding. The word “W” is read again: “Welcome Wendy! When we are crying! ”

In the first demo, Goli brought an eyebrow pencil “because eyebrows are really important, and what if you don’t have a mirror”. See a Julia Roberts filming with Marjan, Omid notes in a magical voice how big her teeth are. “They can rip power cords. In a good way. ” Marjan, the queen of double meanings, says, “Sometimes understanding Hugh Grant takes two,” and then – in the best line of the play – stands up to turn off the DVD player as Grant and Roberts are left in love. happy at the end of the movie Notting Hill.

“Good for them,” said Marjan. She doesn’t say this curtly, or who plays her to make it sound funny. She said it so regularly that you would only later realize that we, the audience, with our unexpected bursts of laughter, helped make the moment. It’s not true, but it’s not meant to be mocked explicitly.

“Our mother is named for us. Not foreigners.”

– Roya in “English”

When Marjan asks why we learn a language, the answers vary from need (for food) to emotional expression. Elham said the way they spoke in this particular class was “unnatural,” and immediately asked Omid why he was there as he was already so fluent. Elham says it doesn’t matter what class you take or don’t learn; The Western world will judge their leftover Iranian accent as funny, stupid, and worse.

Marjan, who lived in the United Kingdom, in the northern English city of Manchester, for nine years, tried to defuse hostilities, declaring, “English cannot be conquered. Grab it. You can also be all you are in Farsi in English. I always prefer to be better at English.” But, she admits, for those nine years she was called “Mary,” not her real name, even though she said she liked it. “Marjan is not difficult to say,” said Elham. “Our mother was named for us. Not foreigners,” said Roya.

Marjan persisted, sensing the frustration of students inviting “a foreign language into your body”, but she asked that in this class “we are not Iranian”. She wants them in classes to “let go” of their Iranian personalities.

This is not easy. We see Roya trying to call her son, and stumbling across not only the words, but also the distance – geographical and emotional – those stumbling words have become known. It was too much for her to ask Marjan why she was treating Farsi like “a stench after a long day at work”. She refused to play along at a performance and said, challenged to bring traditional Iranian music into the classroom. “This is my song,” she said, sitting up straight in her chair.

Elham’s desire for a global history led to the unification of the Persian Empire. Instead of being asked to speak American, “We will all speak Farsi.” They may agree on this, but Roya also says that personally Elham is so obnoxious, that in an English context she would have “no merit whatsoever”. This may be true, but Ashe deftly makes all of Elham’s jagged edges—and there are many—completely understandable. Indeed, we cheer for her when she finally beat Omid in the “Things You Find In The Kitchen” game.

There are various twists when the play comes to its conclusion, not in a frenzied development, but in the quiet, forced spirit of the play itself as it continues to question the relationships of language. language, identity and place. It does not reach definite or doctrinal conclusions.

“You are Iranian but your English has many things. It wanted to be American and sometimes British and now it doesn’t know what it is.”

– Elham in “English”

Instead, it proposes a series of compelling ideas that show aspects of each character. Marjan felt that English and Farsi were at war in her head. Omid thinks that belonging anywhere is a “miracle”. Why does Marjan like everything, including him, in English, Omid wondered – countering the class perception that his English was perfect. He knew all too well that it wasn’t. “My English is – you can hear the space between not from here, not from there. I think I live there: in that void. ”

Marjan’s years in Manchester, trying to become fluent in English, made her “always very noisy. Like all the worst parts of your voice are being filtered through the microphone. Your head hurts and the day feels longer. You go years without making anyone laugh. ”

The final discussion between Marjan and Elham was also about language, and not an insult or a sniping. “No one hates this language more than I hate it,” Elham said of English. “I like my mother tongue.”

“You’re Iranian but your English is a lot of things,” Elham told Marjan. “He wanted to be American and sometimes British and now he doesn’t know what he is. When I speak English, I know I will always be a stranger.”

Everything said in English may be true about language, identity, and learning: Goli’s joy, Marjan and Omid’s fading joy and cultural confusion, as well as Elham and Roya’s distrust and resentment connection. At the end, once again pristine here, a final act crystallizes the play’s most penetrating linguistic moment — and the predominantly English-speaking audience is left where it should be.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/english-is-one-of-the-best-plays-in-new-york-right-now?source=articles&via=rss ‘English’ is one of the best plays in New York right now

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: russellfalcon@interreviewed.com.

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