Life in the West Bank — complete with checkpoints, curfews, and blackouts — is the subject of “Food and Fadwa”, a quietly moving drama in which the dangers ever-present in the characters’ daily lives are tempered by large doses of charm, warmth, and — most importantly — humor.
The action revolves around Fadwa Faranesh, a thirty-something Palestinian woman in the turbulent days leading up to her younger sister’s wedding. Fadwa not only cooks, spending much of her time onstage preparing food for the big event and sharing recipes with the audience, but she is also the primary caregiver for her Alzheimer’s-stricken father. As played by Lameece Issaq (who co-wrote the play), Fadwa is serenely happy at some moments (particularly when she’s hosting her own imaginary cooking show, “Food and Fadwa”), heartbroken at others; strong in one scene, vulnerable in the next.
As for the rest of the cast, Arian Moayed as the playful but resilient Emir, Fadwa’s future brother-in-law… Maha Chehlaoui as Dalal, the bride-to-be… Haaz Sleiman as the groom’s restaurateur brother, Youssif, who has flown in to attend the nuptials all the way from America… Heather Raffo as cousin Hayat, Fadwa’s culinary (and romantic) rival… Laith Nakli as the addled father and Kathryn Kates as the aunt, all work so beautifullly together — there’s a real chemistry here — that collectively, they form one of the finest acting ensembles of the year.
Kudos to Lameece Issaq and her collaborator, Jacob Kader, for a funny and poignant script, and to director Shana Gold for bringing the Faranesh family — with all its fears and foibles — to life.
THEATRE REVIEW by Stuart R. Brynien