Off-Broadway Review: ENGLISH (Atlantic Theater Company)

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by Gregory Fletcher on March 6, 2022

in Theater-New York

Learning another language is like becoming another person.
                                                      Haruki Murakami

Marjan Neshat (Marjan)

As tedious as it may sound to sit through a term of English classes in Karaj, Iran, playwright Sanaz Toossi quickly moves past the usual lessons, exercises, and games to expose the conflicts involved with learning English as a foreign language. Through dozens of short vignettes, both backstories and secrets reveal themselves from the four adult students and their teacher, along with struggles of speaking, thinking, and feeling outside of their own language. Most surprising is the complicated and multi-layered love/hate relationship with their own mother tongue, Farsi.

Ava Lalezarzadeh (Goli), Tala Ashe (Elham) and Pooya Mohseni (Roya)The cast of English

Marjan Neshat plays the teacher, and the adult students are played by Tala Ashe, Ava Lalezarzadeh, Pooya Mohseni, and Hadi Tabbal; all of whom give flawless, heartfelt performances with honesty and humor. Director Knud Adams keeps everyone onstage focused and moving, most notably aided by set designer Marsha Ginsberg’s four-sided drab classroom that gracefully rotates to offer varying angles of their revolving world.

Hadi Tabbal (Omid)Hadi Tabbal (Omid) and Marjan Neshat (Marjan)

English may not prepare anyone in the audience for a TOEFL exam, but the lessons offered make for a meaningful, relevant, and moving time in the theater.

Tala Ashe (Elham), Hadi Tabbal (Omid), Ava Lalezarzadeh (Goli),
Marjan Neshat (Marjan), and Pooya Mohseni (Roya)

photos by Ahron R. Foster

Atlantic Theater Company
co-production with Roundabout Theatre Company
Linda Gross Theater (336 West 20th Street)
ends on March 20, 2022
for tickets, call AudienceView at 646-989-7996 or visit Atlantic Theater

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