Book, Music &Lyrics: Aya Aziz
Writer: Aya Aziz
Director: Corinne Proctor
Reviewer: Jamie Rosler
The search for and creation of one’s identity is simultaneously a universal and a specific human experience. Writer and performer Aya Aziz graciously shares her own search for definition as a “Ghetto-Arab-Hippie-Commie-China Doll,” growing up in New York City in the 1980s and ‘90s with her Egyptian father and American mother.
Torn between the modern and progressive world in which she’s raised, and the seemingly oppressive world from which she came, Aziz’s upbringing is the seed of arguments between her academic father and her traditional aunt (whose family lives in Philadelphia and struggles with the realities of immigration and nationalization). Aziz’s relationship with her father is, of course, the foundation story of this production. He married an American woman and left his home country in an effort to provide his daughter with a freer life, away from the confines of an outwardly misogynist society. Yet in doing so, he separated her from a major part of her identity, and in making certain decisions for her, oppressed her in much the same way he was ostensibly aiming to avoid.
A trio of musicians underscores a large swath of this production, to varying degrees of efficacy. At times, the meeting of storytelling, voice, and melody is enchanting, and works to drive home both the emotional and intellectual struggles of Aya and her family. Other times, the music is simply distracting, and serves only to pull focus away from what would have otherwise been a strong moment of connection between performer and audience.
As a work in progress, this production of Eh Dah? Questions For My Father offers a solid foundation for the continued development of a well-made piece of theatre. Aziz is a strong performer, as an actor, musician, and sympathetic impressionist. Her soul is on stage, and her story is both timeless and very much grounded in the current state of our world. In the next iteration, though, her story would likely be more effective if the production were twenty or so minutes shorter.
Reviewed on 25 July 2016