Film

‘Threesome’ Gives New Meaning to the Term ‘Embedded’

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If you had to pick a metaphor for America’s vexed relationship with the Middle East — and the troubled identities of Middle Eastern Americans — a threesome kind of makes sense. The U.S. has been in bed with so many different regimes. And hyphenated Americans often have divided emotions. But despite allegorical pretensions, Yussef El Guindi’s confused play Threesome, directed by Chris Coleman, smothers critique with overheated psychodrama and facepalm-worthy clichés.

There’s a high penis quotient in this production.

One evening, for a nebulous combination of personal and political reasons, Leila (Alia Attallah) and Rashid (Karan Oberoi), two cosmopolitan Egyptian-American intellectuals, decide to partake in a three-way. Their guest star is Doug (Quinn Franzen), a photographer with a penchant for telling off-putting anecdotes about his bowels while walking around with his junk hanging out. (There’s a high penis quotient in this production.) But the festivities don’t go anywhere.

Conveniently enough, Doug spent time embedded with an American military unit; in the second act, he shares a tale of participating in sexual imperialism — which cues Leila’s moment of utterly predictable personal rebellion.

It’s all very overwrought and underthought: too gabby and schematic to be a revealing study of a relationship under pressure; too much like a protracted therapy session to achieve political insight. But that makes Threesome faithful to one perennial problem of U.S.–Middle East relations: Too often feelings speak louder than ideas. Jacob Gallagher-Ross

Threesome

By Yussef El Guindi

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