Painfully Funny But Profoundly Beautiful
Brokenness can come in many forms, however; to feel that you are not worthy enough to be loved is universal. It can be a forcible pain forever deepened by its past and lost within its future if you're not willing to open your heart to heal. This is where we find two Muslim souls seeking love, only to feel broken by the very nature of it.
Although it can be hard to find and can flee us at any moment, love can find you. From Iraq, Syria to Chicago, these two are running from love not knowing that a necklace, born from the pain of love will bring them together.
"Yasmina's Necklace" is a romantic comedy that deals with the complications of immigration, assimilation, and religion. It is also a deeply profound love story about two Muslims living in America with a substantial amount of emotional baggage, trying to be opened up about who they are while seeking to salvage themselves from the disturbing parts of their past; to love again.
Yasmina (Susann Jamshidi) is a refugee from Iraq who strongly advocates for her culture and is a fighter for inclusivity. She has developed a passion for the arts to help ease the pain of seeing so much death in her war-torn home. She paints exactly how she feels. From every stroke of the brush to every splash of color on the canvas she expresses the loss of life and country within her paintings. Although others may see her paintings as dark, haunting and ugly, which she feels represents her life in totality; the paintings give her a chance to free her soul from the portrait of hell she has envisioned.
Forced to leave her home or be killed, she leaves behind a country that she loved and the only person she ever felt a sense of belonging. Life is cold in her heart and what was supposed to be a new beginning; feels like the end.
Yasmina is now living in Chicago with her widow father Musa (Rom Barkhorder). He is happy that they have escaped with their lives but he sees his daughter as a withdrawn and lonely soul who has hardened her heart into meeting anyone. Musa also sees her as a rebel that will never make a good Muslim wife because she focuses all of her time aiding less fortunate refugees and supporting them more than learning to be a suitable candidate for marriage.
Feeling that his one and only daughter will never meet the right person, he seizes the opportunity to introduce her to Sam; a young man from another Muslim family that has somewhat of a troubled past.
Sam (Michael Perez) is a troubled man from a multiracial upbringing. His mother Sara (Laura Crotte) is a Puerto Rican who converted to Islam, and his father Ali (Amro Salama) is ethnically Iraqi. His parents are disappointed with his prior decision to marry a non-Muslim woman. The marriage ended in a divorce, which they are happy about, however, they are equally disappointed when he decides to forgo his Muslim name and take an American name in hopes of overcoming the face of discrimination in corporate America.
Horrified that these two will forever be outcast within their community, the arrangement for Yasmina and Sam is set under the prayers of Allah however, Sara despises the idea of her son Sam marrying a refugee and has her eyes set on another Muslim girl for him.
The challenge of these two finding love with one another comes together with no shortage of perfect comedic timing; especially from Sam's parents Sara and Ali who is at odds over the decision of Sam meeting Yasmina since they are desperately seeking to find a great match for their son. Sam is totally against this arranged meeting but to placate his parents he agrees to a one-time meeting hoping it will stop his parents from meddling in his life.
The meeting is set up by Allen Gilmore (Imam Kareem), who feels that if given a chance the two will get along nicely, however, they seem to detest each other and have some differences that they need to overcome. They both seem finished with the silly plans of their parents but Sam not wanting to end on a bad note offers to help Yasmina with the paperwork for her nascent non-profit organization.
Over time Sam, the man with humor and frankness, who wears his heart on his sleeve and Yasmina the woman who is withdrawn grow closer but, even though a romance soon blossoms, Yasmina's psychological issues of P.T.S.D. makes her feel like she is not worthy enough to continue her relationship with Sam.
Yasmina's Necklace is this year's hidden gem. It's a perfect blend of cultural awareness, identity, family love and loyalty amends the hateful rhetoric of racism. It shatters the stereotypes about Muslim Americans and provides a warming feeling of love that is stronger than the unjust hatred placed on them. It's cleverly and brilliantly written by Rohina Malik and is directed by Ann Filmer with characters that are relatable and as American as apple pie.
We highly recommend Yasmina's Necklace! This is a theatrical joy you must see.
The Cast Includes:
Michael Perez (Sam)
Laura Crotte (Sara)
Amro Salama (Ali)
Allen Gilmore (Imam Kareem)
Rom Barkhorder (Musa)
Susann Jamshidi (Yasmina)
Goodman Theatre Presents
By Rohina Malik
Director Ann Filmer
October 20 – November 19
Filed under: ChicagoNow