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January 26, 2010

LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS - Animals out of Paper





 ALY MAWJI AND LORRI HOLT Photo by Jessica Palopoli



LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS
January 26, 2009

ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER –
Explosive, Spellbinding

Like folds in paper – relationships always leave a mark. Ilani Andrews is a world-renowned origami artist. But she is not a happy person. Recently, her husband left her and her dog that has only three-legs bolted out the door and has not been seen since.

In her kind of unkempt apartment her doorbell rings. Someone wants to talk to her about origami. It’s raining; she does not know the person who is at her door. She tells him that she does not know him. He tells her that his name is Andy – and that he just wants to talk to her about a student that he wants Ilani to tutor. After several more rings – she finally lets him come up.

After much conversation, she agrees to meet the student. The student arrives at her home/studio. He is an annoying young man, but an origami genius. Suresh is his name – and he is a blatant troubled young man. He tells her that her studio is a mess – and that she needs to clean it up. He can’t work in all the disarray. He says all this very bluntly – not kindly.

This quirky comedy has some serious undertones. Ilani’s life is already a mess and it gets more complicated with this teenage, hip-hopping student. And Andy, the man who introduced them gets a surprise. Andy is like an origami that has been flattened by a steam Iron when he discovers that his trust has been betrayed.  As Ilani says – “So much of what I am – I’ve lost.” Yep – Rajiv Joseph, the playwright, sure has a way with words.

This story unfolds with genuine poignancy. It touches in surprising ways what really matters in life: Friendship, Connection and love. Ilani says: “I hurt everyone I meet”.  You know what? This is a play of rare joy. It’s a knockout hit.

Aly Mawji (the Student) has such scalding intensity. His performance is positively historic. You’re gonna fall in love with him. Lori Holt (the older woman) mesmerizes. Her first class acting engages you with every word and action. David Deblinger (The Teacher) is terrific! His performance is heartwarming and powerful.

 This fast-paced, gripping and provocative play will keep you on the edge of your seat. I guarantee it! It’s one of the years best.

Åmy Glazer’s directing really brings out the fullness of this powerful story. 

www.sfplayhouse.org.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


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