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Nine Armenians 

Themes of oppression and assimilation infuse this play about a familiy searching for its roots

Wednesday, Apr 10 2002
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Leslie Ayvazian's play about an Armenian family living in America and searching for its roots begins with a scene many of us are familiar with: A nuclear family is visiting with Grandma and Grandpa (who are from the old country), but despite every attempt to pack the kids into the car and go home, they can't seem to leave. Someone didn't say goodbye, someone gets locked in the bathroom, someone forgot something in the house -- you know the drill. But when Grandpa suddenly dies, everything changes. His granddaughter, Ani, then decides to journey back to Armenia to learn about the history and persecution of her people, while her parents stay in America and worry about her welfare. From the start, the familiarity of Ayvazian's endearing characters is the backbone of the play, but the story isn't strikingly original, and in Golden Thread's production it doesn't go very far. With the exception of Atosa Babaoff as the wanderlusting Ani and Vida Ghahremani in an authentic portrayal of Non, the grandmother, the actors tend to make stereotypes out of the characters; these depictions are often sweet and humorous but fail to give the play depth. The direction is also lacking, never taking full advantage of the few weighty moments in the script. For instance, the death of an uncle brings his wife to ludicrous hysterics, which garners a few laughs but detracts from the overall heft of the play. There are, however, some great scenes between Lara Palanjian and Toby Brooks, the two kids in the cast, including a nicely choreographed Rollerblading bit. And themes of oppression and assimilation are never irrelevant.

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Karen Macklin

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