Astonishing, necessary theater. Heather Raffo’s one-woman show paints a moving portrait of the lives of nine different Iraqi women, bringing each character to life intensely and vividly under the intelligent direction of Joanna Settle. The writing is smart, lyrical and satisfying; Raffo’s characters are created from interviews and thoughtful research, and there are simply no moments that ring false. That the women’s stories Raffo has found are rare and significant is the beginning of why this show matters so much; the genre is in large part investigative journalism, but it transcends the subject matter and marks an upper limit of what creative nonfiction can accomplish. The intelligence and aesthetic of the play carries through to art direction, with a dazzling, dynamic set that becomes another silent female character. One of the most nuanced and interesting women in the show, based on a real Iraqi painter under the early nineties Saddam regime, describes her self-portraits as a way to express the experiences of other women: “my body her body.” This is precisely what Raffo has done in her piece. (Monica Westin)
At the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, (312)280-2660. This production is now closed.