I’m loath to say very much at all about Death of the Persian Prince only because the less you know about what it has up its sleeve, the more powerful it is. What’s unfortunate is that it’s being publicized as an “issue” play, and none of the promotion hides what the issue is, so for the audience member who knows the subject matter, a key element of suspense and surprise is missing, rather like watching a mystery knowing the solution. However, playwright-director Dewey Moss has done his job so well, with this tight, taut 70-minute play, that knowing “the big secret” may not diminish the impact but only heighten it differently.
The very accurate boilerplate synopsis is this: On an evening in New York City, Samantha (Pooya Mohseni) and James (George Faya) arrive at Samantha's apartment after having attended a political lecture about Samantha's home country, Iran. The couple spars in a political debate, though it is obvious they are in love after having dated for five months. James is a veteran of the Iraq war, and tries to be open minded, but defaults to a typical American stance on other countries. Though Samantha has few plans to return to Iran, she still longs for her home country and has great hope that political situations in Iran will change. When James suggests that he and Samantha make future plans together, things become uncomfortable. Samantha asks James to make a late night run for wine in order to avoid his advances. A knock at the door is heard. Samantha answers, and is caught off guard by an unexpected visitor (Gopal Divan) from her homeland.
If the structural configuration sounds familiar, it is, but Mr. Moss knows just how to spin it so that it’s surprising too. And the cast is terrific.
Death of the Persian Prince is an award-winning festival play and its current NY run (at DMAC-Duo Multicultural Arts Center, 62 East 4th) is very short, playing only through the end of September. But it’s very worthy of being offered by a subscription off-Broadway theatre company and being produced in the regionals ASAP. It’s a solid, provocative, well-rendered sleeper…that really keeps you awake…
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