ACTFor the past couple of years, my mother-in-law has given us an ACT Theatre subscription for Christmas (woo-woo!). This season opens with two productions by the Ilkhom company from Uzbekistan. What a rare opportunity! Tragically, the company’s founder was murdered last fall in Tashkent, where the theater is based.

I immensely enjoyed White White Black Stork, a hauntingly sad story of two Muslim teenagers forced into an arranged marriage that neither one desires (he’s a dreamer and poet who may be gay, she’s got a crush on a cloth salesman). Strong themes permeate the play: parental expectations can crush the delicate maturing of youth, the clash between Shar’ia and Russian law, and what avenues of agency are open to women.

The sophisticated production uses an inventive and minimalist set. It’s the perfect backdrop to the emotional performances of its actors. The costuming of the youths was particularly apt: they all wore oversized plain canvas shirts and pants that hid the shapes of their bodies. I thought it was a great metaphor for children-as-blank-slates, onto whom their parents project whatever they want, regardless of their children’s actual personalities or their wishes for themselves.

Supertitles are projected above the set. My husband found that it took away from his immersion in the story, having to check the translations all the time. I agree to some extent, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the production to anyone. It’s a short run that ends April 6th, to be followed by another Ilkhom production that lasts just from April 9-13. We’ll be at that one too.

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