August 20, 2015
The title spells it out—one couple plus one young man are experimenting with the age-old titillating combination of three engaged in one sex act. But this is not your usual wife-swapping group. To starts, Leila (Alia Attallah) and Rashid (Karan Oberol) are Egyptian Americans who remain tethered to their culture and religious mores. However, Leila’s book is being published and she wants to test the physical boundaries shared with her husband “I think this is more of how divorced we can get from our own bodies.” Why that’s of interest becomes somewhat, although not completely clearer by the end of the show.
Spunky direction keeps the fidgety people popping from thought to thought and cigarette to cigarette. The first half is set in the bedroom that icily welcomes the “third man” a hilarious Doug (Quinn Franzen) who enters stark naked and complains about his stomach bedrooms just prior to jumping into bed with the understandably put-off couple. Conversations ramble uncovering everyone’s basic uneasiness about the set-up. In a twist, both Doug and Rashid are photographers. Suddenly, everything unravels because Rashid believes Leila recommended he photograph her cover.
Needless to say, the experiment unravels, but the idea of ‘separation” insinuates itself more deeply in the text so even Leila tells Doug “I still think you’d be a catch fro someone. If you divorce the body from some of your more annoying traits.” Doesn’t that make him another person?
The dénouement comes during the second half. Leila is preparing for a photo shoot and the photographer is Doug. Somehow, the goofy, stomach addled fellow upends his employers.
Evidently, during the riots in Egypt, and the Arab Spring, Leila was one of the women who ran towards the revolution and as a result was sexually assaulted by the men in the mob. Disturbing reports of this behavior hit American media, and this play written Yusef El Guindi investigates the combination of forces in the creation of a union and the underlying forces that undermine those unions.
At the end she rips off the abaya to communicate fearlessness, she will not be covered up, she will not be ashamed.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY-- Celia Ipiotis