QURRAT ANN KADWANI
By R. Pikser
Luke’s Church, located across Eighth Avenue from the big Broadway houses is
just barely off Broadway. The church has fitted its basement into an elegant
theater space with comfortable chairs on risers and a small stage that still
manages to have three wings. The tannish color of woodwork around the walls of
the theater contrasts pleasingly with the plum walls and the whole is lit with
sconces. It does not try to rival the big Broadway houses for lavishness; the
atmosphere is one of intimacy and care. Fittingly, the theater often opens
smaller plays and allows audiences to see young actors at the start of their
Quarrat Ann Kadwani
is just such a young actor. She tells her story, that of a first generation
American of Islamic Indian parentage growing up in the Bronx. By the end of
her hour-long tale she states that she has come to terms with who she is.
the way she does impressions of various people in her life: her mother, her
Puerto Rican school friends, herself as a Puerto Rican wannabe, an African
American friend who commits suicide, her brother (briefly), her father (more
briefly), and a young girl she meets in India who ekes out a living painting
henna on ladies’ hands and who is the most specific, and therefore the most
affecting person we meet all evening.
title of the play refers to Ms Kadwani’s difficult to pronounce first name.
Although she rapidly tells us the reasons her parents have for choosing such a
name, she never gives the audience a chance to hear it so we can relate to its
difficulty ourselves. She never even allows us to see her parents try to
convince her of its importance. She tells us she feels she does not belong,
but there are no specifics. She shows us how she fought with a school friend,
but all girls do that. She may be in pain, but she tells us rather than
showing us, and the characters from her life that we meet are rapid
impressions. We never really understand who they are, or what they need, so we
cannot understand their relationship to her. We leave the theater knowing very
little more about her or her friends than we did upon entering. Take, for
instance the African American friend who commits suicide the night after they
go out dancing. Ms. Kadwani, as a teen, might well have been unaware that
anything was amiss, but she is presenting the play now that she is older and
we, as the audience, should have been able to see that something was not quite
right. That is why some help is definitely needed in the writing of this
co-directors, Obaid Kadwani and Claudia Gaspar tried
to vary the talking with some movement, such as the evening out dancing, or a
nod to Indian dance, but Ms. Kadwani is not a dancer and she looked better
toking on her pretend joint than she did trying to pretend to dance. Another
way must be found.
short, this little show seems to be in workshop. The next phase, the deeper
phase, the phase where everybody learns something, needs to be explored. The
start is in the little henna girl. Ms.Kadwani can do it.
Call Me Q
4th 2014 and continuing
West 46th Street, NYC 10036
at 7:00; Wednesdays at 8:00.
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www.Telecharge.com or call 212-239-6200.