by Robert Schneider
Translated from the German by Paul Dvorak
Directed by Mary Catherine Burke
Starring Christopher Domig
4th Street Theatre, 83 East 4th Street
Official Website

Reviewed by David Spencer

Dirt is a one-actor play by German author Robert Schneider about an impoverished, illegal Iraqi immigrant living in an unnamed American city that seems much like New York but might be any with its own actual and psychological ghettos. He sells flowers, he shares a two-room, no-private-plumbing flat (where the play is set) with his (unseen) cousin, and because of the way Arab nations are currently regarded in the Western world, he feels the weight of prejudice in every glance. Not merely actual prejudice, but psychological prejudice of his own devising, borne of the cancerous belief that he must come from an inferior culture, populated by inferior people, not worthy of American benevolence. And today is his birthday. Yet his mantra is always, “My name is Sad [pronounced: Saad or more phonetically, Sahd]. I am thirty years old. In English Sad means sad. But I am not sad.” Of course, sad doesn’t begin to describe what he is. In 70 riveting minutes that do leave the proverbial haunting after-impressions, actor Christopher Domig (who has performed Sad successfully and continuously throughout the English speaking world since 2012) delivers a comic-tragic, painfully human portrait of self-esteem under siege. The play is at the 4th Street Theatre. Mary Catherine Burke has provided the best kind of invisible direction, and Paul Dvorak  a colloquially fluid English translation.

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