‘Disgraced’ leaves audiences thirsty for more

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater presents "Disgraced" in the Quadracci Powerhouse. Photo by Micheal Brosilow.

The home setting of Disgraced is simple yet provocative. Disgraced, currently the most produced play in the country, takes on a topic of the times while encouraging viewers to examine their own ideas and stereotypes about race, ethnicity and the American Dream.

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater presents Disgraced in the Quadracci Powerhouse through Feb. 12, 2017, by Milwaukee mainstay and playwright Ayad Akhtar.

Akhtar masterfully turns an ordinary dinner party into a scene that quickly, and violently reveals the motivations, anxieties and stereotypes of the actors. The five-person cast is expertly put together. The writing is real, strong, and powerful. All told, Disgraced does not disappoint, it delivers a standing-ovation worthy performance – one that will be talked about long after the curtains close.

Akhtar’s Disgraced, is a beautiful blend of the American fabric and gives rise to Akhtar’s Pakistani roots.

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh plays Amir, a successful corporate Pakistani-American lawyer, who is also successful at hiding his self-hatred in consumption of whiskey, and robust conversations about race and history. Emily, Amir’s white wife is played by Janie Brookshire. She’s an artist, who loves her husband deeply but at times, her love for her husband, is overshadowed by her love of art – particularity art from the Islamic tradition – which presents tension in the marriage and an unexpected cost for the couple. Brookshire’s performance is a beautiful mix of honesty, and vulnerability. A Jewish art dealer, Issac, is played by Jason Babinsky, his performance is slow, and ultimately surprising to the viewer. Issac is married to a black lawyer, Jory, who is played by Austene Van.

The fabric of the dinner party with the blend of cultures and friendship is torn through deep roots, history, and present issues surrounding Islamophobia and xenophobia. The topics are heavy, but not inaccessible. Disgraced lifts the weight of those uncomfortable conversations that we all need to have and Akhtar delivers once again to Milwaukee audiences. Akhtar brought The Invisible Hand to The Rep last year. Disgraced is at The Rep through Feb. 12, and tickets can be bought on-line here.