New York City Theater
DR2 Theatre, Manhattan
Israeli playwright Ilan Hatsor has written a devastating drama about three Palestinian brothers caught up in the Arab-Israeli conflict. “Masked,” in truth, masks nothing, as the three brothers confront each other against the chaotic background of their times. The battle rages within their small family unit, posed against the ties of brotherly love.
At issue are conflicting values. What are the obligations to one’s family, one’s people, oneself? What is good? What is evil? What is betrayal? Daoud, the oldest brother, supports his wife and child as a dishwasher in Tel Aviv (and indeed maybe a collaborator with the Israelis), while Na’im, the middle one, has joined the terrorists (or freedom fighters, if you will), and Khalid, the youngest, is caught between the two. The three meet in a butcher shop—an appropriate metaphor for the bloody world they inhabit. (Initially, Khalid is seen mopping blood from the walls and floor. Is it human or animal blood, one wonders.)
Palestinians may take issue with an Israeli playwright attempting to depict their people, to get inside their heads. But art is known to cross cultural lines in the hands of a gifted playwright, and Hatsor’s three characters come across as human, believable, and fully fleshed-out.
Under Ami Dayan’s insightful direction, the production hurtles ahead non-stop for 85 minutes, with its three fine actors—Daoud Heidami (Daoud), Arian Moayed (Na’im), and Sanjit De Silva (Khalid)—in a dance of death. If there is any criticism, it is that Dayan hits a single note, starting and remaining at a high-pitched intensity. There is no let-up and no variation in tone.
While “Masked” is not to be confused with docudramas, and is in fact fiction, it is all too believable, given today’s realities in the Middle East. A most provocative play.
-- Irene Backalenick
August 1, 2007