“It’s not easy being green,” according to Kermit the Frog. In Ayad Akhtar’s compelling, pertinent yet somewhat contrived drama DISGRACED, corporate lawyer “mergers and acquisitions” Amir Kapoor (an excellent Hari Dhillon) discovers that it isn’t easy being Muslim-American in his mostly Jewish firm post 9/11.
Amir, born in Pakistan, who is close to becoming “partner” has been denying and hiding his Muslim heritage – passing for something he is not. Asked by his nephew Abe Jensen (Danny Ashok) who has changed his name from Hussein Malik to help an imam who has been accused of funding terrorists Amir reluctantly agrees urged on by his wife Emily (a naïve in the extreme WASP Gretchen Mol), an artist who has been influenced by Islamic art and is about to have a showing by her Jewish art dealer Isaac (an arrogant Josh Radnor). Isaac’s mate Jory (a keen Karen Pittman) – is Afro-American and works at the same firm as Amir.
It’s a mixed bag of interesting characters to say the least. The plot is a bit too pat for its own good with a last minute martial revelation thrown in to spice things up even more and an always unlocked front door that makes no sense at all.
Amir attends the court proceedings in an unofficial capacity as an observer but an article in the NY Times mentions his name and all hell breaks loose. He has been exposed. His comfortable life style on the Upper East Side is suddenly threatened along with his six hundred dollar white shirts. He tries to make sense of it all as his self-loathing slowly surfaces as he prepares for a dinner party to celebrate Emily’s future art exhibit by getting more and more intoxicated. She serves pork tenderloin and fennel salad that is the fastest dinner ever on stage.
What transpires is a heated discussion that has been slowly simmering which ignites and explodes for all the parties involved exploring race, religion, racial profiling and identity – facing up to and accepting who you really are.
Directed by Kimberly Senior DISGRACED stumbles a bit running only ninety minutes but it is ninety minutes that will make you rethink how we perceive and present ourselves and how we should think about each other. Without bias. Without prejudice. Which is what we should be doing anyway. Not doing so would be and is disgraceful.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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