Lina Benich ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Plays always love the idea of star-crossed lovers who come from completely opposite walks of life. But they never seem to show after the happily ever after. Once they couple gets together, that’s it. But the product of that cultural confusion is a large struggle explored in Ibrahim Miari’s one-man show In Between at The New Repertory Theatre, a part of the Next Rep Black Box Festival. Using his own history to portray this identity no man’s land, Miari delves into the tensions between his parents’ cultures, that of his Jewish-Israeli mother and Palestinian-Muslim father.
Part love story, part identity crisis, In Between combines two notable life events–that of Miari’s impending marriage and his detainment in airport security–to give a glimpse into his world, which is the result of having growing up in a multi-cultural home. He tells the stories of how he met his fiancée, Sarah, their many attempts at finding a religious official to perform their wedding, and his conversations with the airport security personnel. Though his story seems deep and serious, Miari finds a way to bring humor to each part of it. Sometimes it is genuine humor, causing the audience to laugh outright, but other moments are a softer truth, more deserving of a chuckle or genuine smile.
The strongest part of the play by far was the physicality. The transitions between scenes and stories were often dance-like patterns of movement, like a security pat-down sequence or the traditional dance Miari often spirals into. Like a stream of consciousness, the seemingly unrelated anecdotes and memories flow together to create a picture of his mind, one that is both collective and at war with itself as it tries to reconcile the different parts of his upbringing.
Miari’s physicality was also shown through the many religious officials he and his fiancée meet with while attempting to get married. These men were portrayed by a larger-than-life puppet operated by Miari himself, causing Miari to “talk to himself” to replay the dialogue. These characters, along with other characters like Sarah’s and Miari’s mothers, were comic and heartfelt, each distinct but with a bit of Miari’s own spirit.
This is a production with a lot of passion and comedy, and a great show for anyone who likes their human truth with a few laughs thrown in.
In Between plays at the Arsenal Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre through April 20th. Tickets at newrep.org.