Goodman’s Brilliant YASMINA’S NECKLACE Explores The Power of Self Identity
Reviewed By: Stacey Crawley
Identity is a combination of factors – those you have no control over, such as the color of your skin or where you were born, and ones you can control – what you believe and how you spend your time. Unfortunately, in 2017, Islamophobia has forced many to toss aside their identity out of fear.
One such victim is the emotionally wounded “Sam” (Michael Perez), whose real name he deems too Islamic for the corporate world. Upon first meeting Sam and his parents (Laura Crotte and Amro Salama), they are discussing this name-change and his casual attitude toward stripping away his Iraqi and Puerto Rican heritage for the “American Dream.” They insist he at least honor the arranged marriage tradition to redeem himself after his heartbreaking divorce, which has brought shame to the family.
Iraqi refugee and artist Yasmina (Susaan Jamshidi), wary about her new home in America, is the other half of this potential match. Although their parents are hoping for a union, it is the furthest thing from Sam and Yasmina’s mind. Sam, struggling with deep depression, also harbors feelings for his ex-wife. Yasmina, who has weathered war and death, feels her experiences have somehow tainted her – that she is somehow “not normal” and therefore cannot possibly marry anyone. She also insists that she must take care of her father Musa (Rom Barkhordar), a widower who lost his wife in the war. After spending time together working on opening a non-profit to help female refugees, Sam and Yasmina come to realize what a matter in life is moving past the fear, self-doubt and bitterness. That a new life is possible, even for those society deems flawed and therefore unworthy of happiness.
While this story sounds dark and emotional, it is delivered at times with light humor, which I believe gives the story its relatable edge. It isn’t the problematic Muslim stereotype we see, but loved ones, friends – human beings – struggling with the hand they were dealt and trying to move on. A story that shows us we can go through horrific moments, we can even strip our own self-identity, but we can find happiness in the end if we are willing to allow it into our lives.
I highly recommend Chicago playwright Rohina Malik’s heartwarming, profound and humorous Yasmina’s Necklace, beautifully directed by Ann Filmer.
Yasmina’s Necklace is in The Goodman’s Owen Theatre now until November 19th. 170 N. Dearborn St; 2 hours, 15 minutes. Tickets ($10-$40) at 312-443-3800 or www.goodmantheatre.org
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