It starts with polygamy. Amira and Khadija’s husbands are in a heated discussion about modern-day polygamy in the Muslim faith. For Americans, it’s a touchy subject, but polygamy is common in Muslim-majority nations, which can create a conflict for some Muslim-American women. That is the focal point of playwright Fouad Teymour’s “Twice, Thrice, Frice…” in a co-production by Silk Road Rising and International Voices Project.
Three dear friends, Samara (Marielle Issa), Amira (Catherine Dildilian) and Khadija (Annalise Raziq), are at a crossroads in their friendship. While Amira’s religious life dwells farther from traditional Islam, Samara is devout and Khadija lies somewhere in between. This range of beliefs creates an amalgamation of frustrations among the trio, although they love one another all the same. That is, until Khadija’s husband decides to take another wife.
Teymour’s premise is more than enough for a one-hundred-minute show to delve into without adding a secondary storyline about Amira and her husband, who works with Doctors Without Borders. By juggling the two plots, it feels as though neither gets enough attention to fully draw out the relationships among the women. The drama of three Arab women living their truths while negotiating their different identities makes this a play worthy of exploration. Unfortunately, as it is right now, the text doesn’t dig in enough to feel complete.
It’s possible the demeanor of the performances added to that incompleteness. At the performance I attended, all three actresses played their roles well, but with limited emotional range. Moments of rage felt subdued while instances of woeful weeping felt out of place and disingenuous. Even comedic moments either fell flat or appeared intermittently only to disappear seconds later. Dildilian, Issa and Raziq don’t appear to be given enough room to explore the depth of their characters. Their chemistry with one another is perfect and could give rise to so much more intensity.
What Teymour gives us is an exploration of how modern lifestyles, religious beliefs and cultural identities intersect. “Twice” provides a framework for how tumultuous those intersections can be from both personal and interpersonal perspectives. What the work needs is to get to the crux of the problem more quickly so the characters have more opportunities to grow. (Amanda Finn)
Silk Road Rising, 77 West Washington, (312)857-1234, silkroadrising.org, $28-$38. Through November 10.