Review: Latest Swine Palace play 'goes there’ with the tough questions surrounding American man with Muslim heritage _lowres

Photo provided by Swine Palace -- Zarif Kabier, left, plays the first generation Pakistani-American Amir, who is trying to escape his Muslim background, and Cara Reid plays his artist wife Emily, who embraces his culture through her work, in Swine Palace's production of the drama, 'Disgraced.'

In “Disgraced,” what starts as a celebratory evening among friends wanders off into all sorts of sensitive subjects: Islamophobia, culture appropriation, anti-Semitism, discrimination and cultural attitudes toward women.

Just when the audience thinks “surely, it’s not going there,” it goes there.

Atad Akhtar’s play about a successful American man’s struggles with his Muslim and Pakistani heritage should send Swine Palace patrons out of LSU’s Shaver Theatre asking difficult questions.

Femi Euba directs the 90-minute play, which takes place entirely in the New York apartment of corporate lawyer Amir Kapoor and his artist wife, Emily. Life is good. Already successful enough to favor $600 dress shirts, Amir is expecting to be made a partner in his firm, and Emily’s paintings are to be featured in an art exhibit.

The lead roles are well-cast. Zarif Kabier oozes confidence as the not-to-be-trifled-with lawyer who has rejected faith and replaced it with an American dream of upward mobility.

World views collide when Amir’s nephew, Abe (played by Nitin Mane), begs his uncle to provide legal support to a Muslim cleric he insists has been unjustly accused of supporting terrorists. Emily, the white multiculturalist, urges Amir to help. Amir, fearing possible reactions of his bosses — all Jewish, by the way — is unenthusiastic.

But things really get interesting at dinner with Isaac (Shawn Halliday) and Jory (Nicole Powell). He is a Jewish art dealer considering Emily’s works; she is a black lawyer at Amir’s firm.

Powell displays a wide range of emotions, from sunny joy to volcanic rage without grinding the gears as she shifted, and she stands out among the supporting actors.