Isfahan Blues is set up in flashbacks. Aging Iranian film star Bella (Vida Ghahremani) has conjured up musician Ray Hamilton (L. Peter Callender), to regale her with tales of the 24 hours they spent together in Iran in 1963.
The Bella of 1963 (Sofia Ahmad) is a young actress with a jazz club, Club Cuccini, and a bevy of male protectors trusted by her wayward husband: waiter Mirza (Kenan Arun), intelligence agent Sarhang (Behzad Golemohammadi), and guitarist Farid (Mohammad Talani). Ray, a member of Duke Ellington’s band, on tour in Iran, wanders into Club Cuccini one fateful night, and thus begins an eventful road trip.
In the wake of the ongoing demonstration against police brutality and President Obama’s efforts to re-establish relations with Iran, Isfahan Blues reminds us that the past isn’t always past. The
images of the Civil Rights movement could just as easily be Ferguson or Baltimore today. The Iran that Bella holds dear still exists, but has been driven underground. Khomeini is mentioned, and the idea of American exceptional-ism is an undercurrent throughout the action. It is a timely play by playwright and Golden Thread founder Torange Yeghiazarian.
Unfortunately, the production has a pacing problem. The scenes run long, and the play drags. Hopefully subsequent performances will get tighter.
Reasons to go:
- The talented actors (including Lawrence Radecker and Alexander M Lydon),
- Details about life in Iran pre and post-revolution that pepper the script
- The music
Who should go: Teens through adults
- The middle section has the best view of the entire set (but it is also the most expensive)
- Parking is difficult in the area
- If you want to dine at one of the restaurants suggested by the website, make a reservation
Themes: civil rights, jazz/blues, revolution, sexuality
Advisory: Some violence
Show information: via Golden Thread Productions, co-produced by the African-American Shakespeare Company, through May 24