When asked how many terrorists it takes to blow something up, after the horrified silence fades, one would generally answer with the number ‘one’. David Holstein’s quirky and irreverent The B-Team shows us that terrorists are people too and that sometimes one terrorist just isn’t enough. Holstein’s caricature characters are dripping with abandonment issues, skewed views of the polar opposite cultures around them and the niggling feeling that there’s more to life than 40 virgins.
When five white guys walk on stage and burst into semi-believable Middle Eastern accents, there is a guarantee that politically correctness has been thrown out of the window and anything is fair game. By the end of the first scene the power of performance and absurdly racist dialogue makes the iffy enunciation the least of your worries and you can’t help but look to see if you neighbor is laughing as well.
A rag-bag team of terrorists in Buffalo, New York are charged with an important mission and secretly sent a true to the cause replacement leader to make sure they carry out their orders. In true road trip fashion, a delightful bromance develops, the gang discovers the meaning of life and someone near and dear is blown up. Racism aside, Director Bob Bartlett capitalizes on the terrorist stereotype and turns our expectations upside down to deliver an entertaining, if crude comedy romp.
Led by the permanently thumbs-upping, orphaned Mohammad (played by a passable, but progressing Nick Hagy) and supervised by Sadiq (an authentic John Tweel performance) the crew easily pantomimes their way through some tricky settings. The homophobic Ammad (Matthew Baughman) and brand-whore Abdul (Michael Greenan) bicker and banter throughout and easily won the majority of the evening’s laughs. Jewish mother hating Brian (a spot on performance by Evan Crump) and evil leader Abu (the least believable of all played by Rob Heinly) round out the ineffectual terrorist cell.
The sensitive and faint of heart should stay away, but it could be a great opportunity for an after show dialogue with your more patriotic peers. At points, it was a side splitting laugh-and-a-half, but other times it inspired the thought of setting a bomb just to make the uncomfortable mess end. The minimalistic set and use of space by set designer Jared Davis is proof that black boxes can become so much more and Elizabeth D. Reeves’ simple yet deliberate costuming bring the characters to life.
The B-Team plays through June 19th at the D.C. Arts Center, 2438 18th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets call 202-462-7833, or purchase them online. The running time is about 100 minutes, without an intermission.