Saturday August 19th 2017

“Faceless”

Faceless_166x62_title Highly Recommended **** Every day, our country (as well as others) seems to have actions of terrorism, either acted upon, or being planned. The news, whether on TV or the internet, in a newspaper (some of you still remember the printed page, I hope) or on the radio, we hear of some group that has conspired to attack some other group. Often it is because of or due to ISIS, where they are recruiting our own American youngster , many of whom are confused into becoming members. Those who are lost and in need of love or reassurance might just gravitate to find the things missing from their lives.faceless10

“Faceless”, now in its World Premiere at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, tells such a story. Written by Selina Fillinger and sharply directed by BJ Jones, this  90 minute play tells the story  of Susie Glenn (Lindsay Stock is a powerhouse in this role), an 18-year-old on trial for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. She was recruited to the cult through the Internet, by a young man she never met. Here is a young girl, seeking a replacement for the lost love and guidance of her recently deceased mother, and a stand-in for her father (deftly handled by  Joe Dempsey) who was not there for her during her tough times.

faceless1She is being defended by an older, Jewish attorney, Mark Arenberg (a superb performance by Ross Lehman, who I sometimes forget can do drama as well as musicals and comedy). On the other side, the prosecution is represented by Scott Bader ( Timothy Edward Kane, who as I have said before, can read the phone book and keep an audience involved, waiting for the next name) and his young aide, Claire Fathi ( a wonderful character study by Susaan Jamshidi), a recent Harvard grad and practicing Muslim, in order to work the jury to their advantage.

While the play is done in scenes that are short and terse, each one brings us closer to understanding what each of the women is going through. They are pitted against each other, for certain, but that is only in the actual courtroom. On the other side, each of these young women has their own battles- defending their own moral code, their freedom to seek their own lives and make their own choices in religion as well as life. Fillinger’s story is about today and the mentality of our society. Because someone is different from us, in customs, traditions and religious belief, are they criminals? When we hear about the terrorism in our world and the hatred because of people feeling different, we think back to why our country began. Wasn’t it religious freedom as well as political freedom that caused our forefathers to come here and build what we have today?

Since 9-11, we look at Muslims in a different way- not trusting anyone who may or may not be “one of them”. Our recent experience with our latest election and some of the new rules and dictates that emerged from same, are causing a new discrimination and one that America has to re-evaluate. Fear and anger give way to violence and tragedy, so best to be cautious. The play is filled with tension as our prosecutor wants his young Muslim attorney to do things tougher than she feels she should be. He wants to win his case. Is our young girl truly a bad person? Did she really do something, or only talk about what could be done? Her father, it turns out cares about her and wants her to be free, and perhaps back to being “his little girl”. Our prosecutor (Bader) is willing to make a deal and our defendant, not. Her attorney wants to end the matter and go back to his own life and family.

This is a strong story, told by five very able actors who allows us to get into each of the characters minds and souls. It is an open stage with a simple set (John Culbert) and some furniture (two tables and chairs that represent the courtroom faceless4tables as well as conference room tables). The lighting (Heather Gilbert), sound and original music (Andre Pluess) and costumes (Izuma Inaba) all add to the charm of the piece, which moves quickly, allowing us to get into the story. Having no intermission is perfection as it allows us to stay into the story and the characters. An intermission would have taken us out for minutes and probably make it difficult for some to get back into the flow that Ms Fillinger wrote.

Watching the struggles that each of the women has with their lives, their situations, their positions and the men in their lives is what it is all about and Northlight has scheduled many related events to make viewing easier.

Tuesday, February 7th  2 p.m.- Inside Look   Skokie Public Library

Sunday, February 12th  from 6-8 p.m.  Muslims on Stage and Screen at Muslim Education Center 8601 N. Menard  Morton Grove and on many performance dates post-show discussions with special guests

check out www.northlight.org

“Faceless” will continue at Northlight Theatre , 9501 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie thru March 4th with performances as follows:

faceless6Wednesdays  1 p.m.  and 7:30 p.m. (except 2/22

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  2:30 p.m.  and 8 p.m.

Sundays  2:30 p.m.  and 7 p.m. (February 26th only)

Tickets range from $30-$81 and are available at the box office, by calling 847-673-6300 or online at www.northlight.org

There is plenty of FREE parking at Northlight

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Faceless”faceless8

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