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The Black Eyed 

A powerful vision of four Palestinian women in the afterlife

Wednesday, Jun 8 2005
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This play by Palestinian-American Betty Shamieh is a chillingly beautiful piece about the relationship between violence and seduction. In Shamieh's poetic-apocalyptic vision of the afterlife, four Palestinian women from different historical periods hang about in limbo, awaiting admittance to "The Martyrs' Room," where they hope to find answers to the questions that haunt them. Suicide bomber Aiesha (Nora El Samahy) claims to have already been inside the room to receive her reward of sex with 100 men, yet is tormented by the thought of the innocent people who died the day she detonated herself; Delilah (Sofia Ahmad), feeling betrayed since she famously seduced and depowered Samson, longs to be reunited with her lover; Tamam (Bridgette Loriaux), a rape victim from the time of the Crusades, is driven by vengeance against her attackers but is also desperate to see her brother again; and a young woman known simply as Architect (Atosa Babaoff) fantasizes about seducing her potential boss before dying in a plane hijacking. Director Jessica Heidt's sensitive use of space and movement conveys the majesty, irony, and lyricism of Shamieh's work. Bouncing bits of text among themselves as if playing a game of catch, the tantalizing cast members both tempt and repel us in this whirling dervish of a show. -- C.V.

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Chloe Veltman

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