Fare Minded

In this dark comedy, a Muslim cab driver cruises Manhattan

Pervez (Debargo Sanyal), a Pakistani engineer working in Manhattan as a cab driver, jokes that he's funnier in English than he ever was in Urdu. It's not surprising that his sense of humor has evolved, albeit bitterly. The FBI raided his home and took his brother Nawaz (Aladdin Ullah). Before coming to this country, his wife left him because he wasn't religious enough, and here, Barb (Annie McNamara), a Christian sent to Manhattan to proselytize, has no compunction about kissing him when drunk or sleeping in his cab when locked out of her mission but, ultimately, won't become involved with him because of his religion. Pervez arrived in the States fearful of African Americans; ironically, his only real friend is Nate (Edwin Lee Gibson), a black homeless man living at Port Authority on the corner where Nawaz used to sell newspapers, which he stuffed with pamphlets about Islam.

Playwright Mike Batistick combines issues of religious intolerance, bigotry, and the Patriot Act in a dark comedy that's as aimless as a cab driver cruising for a fare. Connie Grappo provides solid direction, but neither her work nor Sanyal and Gibson's standout performances bring focus to this meandering play that, though tantalizingly timely, never quite reaches its intended destination of being incisive political and social theater.

 
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