Food and Fadwa Heads to a West Bank Kitchen

New York Theatre Workshop co-produces a new play with Noor Theatre

Seasoned with didacticism: Lameece Issaq and Haaz Sleiman
Joan Marcus
Seasoned with didacticism: Lameece Issaq and Haaz Sleiman

The dutiful adult daughter Fadwa stations herself at the kitchen counter in her Bethlehem home, daydreaming about hosting a TV cooking show as she labors to nourish her family. But life in today’s West Bank poses major challenges to this determined chef: She needs an elaborate feast for a wedding, while the daily menu consists of blackouts, curfews, and rationing.

Food and Fadwa, a new play by Lameece Issaq and Jacob Kader, introduces a gently discordant household that is easy for American audiences to recognize, even when its struggles under occupation seem distant. Director Shana Gold and her cast generate enough domestic warmth to help alleviate the drama’s rudimentary qualities and telegraphic dialogue.

Voices from the Middle East are too few and too far between on American stages; New York Theatre Workshop—an institution that has long engaged with the region—has appointed the fledgling Noor Theatre as a company-in-residence to co-produce in future seasons. Food and Fadwa, the inaugural project, can be awkwardly expository and has a didactic streak leading to frequent explanations of everything from army checkpoints to the history of baba ghanoush. Nonetheless, the Noor ensemble’s sincerity makes this a promising debut; we should sample more of what they cook up.

 
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