In Sylvia Khoury’s “Selling Kabul,” lives swiftly unravel as the Taliban closes in on Afghan interpreter, Taroon (Mazin Akar) in retaliation for his collaboration with American military forces. As events unfold, he, his family, and even the neighbors come to realize that none of them will escape the Taliban’s wrath unscathed.
Director Shadi Ghaheri has assembled an exceptional cast.
For months, Taroon has been in hiding from Taliban assassins at his sister Afiya (Awesta Zarif) and brother-in-law Jawid’s (Yousof Sultani) apartment in Kabul, but he is desperate to make his way to the city’s hospital where his wife has just given birth to their son. Without knowing the extent of the danger he is in, Taroon is convinced that he can make it across town safely without being recognized. In the midst of Afiya’s attempts to stop Taroon from leaving, the neighbor, Leyla (Neagheen Homaifar) arrives, carrying her own secrets that, when brought to light, will change their lives forever.
Well-designed to accommodate the action, the set created by Tony Cisek consists of an upscale apartment by Kabul standards, including a television set and standard kitchen appliances. A large coat closet and bedroom door on opposite ends of the stage facilitate the constant need to hide Taroon from visitors. Even when the front door is locked, Afiya frequently depends on the white noise produced by an air purifier and air conditioning unit to mask conversation—some of it rising in volume as the situation grows more alarming. The costumes by Moyenda Kulemeka lend an authenticity to the production, featuring traditional Afghan clothing and head coverings for Afiya, Leyla, and Jawid, but putting Taroon, who is anxiously awaiting his visa to the United States, in a pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt.
Director Shadi Ghaheri has assembled an exceptional cast. Yousof Sultani (Jawid) deftly portrays a man who wrestles with the choices he has made in an impossible situation and the deep shame and regret that plague him. Neagheen Homaifar (Leyla) initially appears to be nothing more than a nosy neighbor until finally revealing the truth of her situation in a burst of emotional intensity. Awesta Zarif (Afiya) is the devoted sister, at times expressing concern and at others, demonstrating great restraint, until finally losing her cool when the stress overwhelms her. Mazin Akar (Taroon) embodies the risk-taking idealist who makes brave, but sometimes reckless choices.
“Selling Kabul” is a story about modern-day Afghanistan, but it is also an examination of the hard choices people are forced to make when the stakes are high and circumstances are out of their control. This play provides a unique glimpse into life in Afghanistan, giving audience members an opportunity to re-consider their impressions of a complicated land and its people.
Running Time: Approximately 95 minutes with no intermission.
Advisory: Recommended for mature teens and adults. Signature does not admit children under 6 years old.
“Selling Kabul” runs through April 2, 2023 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, Virginia, 22206. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.
Masks are always optional in the lobby and other public areas of the building. Face masks are required inside the performance spaces on Thursdays and Sundays. Face masks are optional inside the performance spaces Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.