What happens when you mix precived activism and terrorism together with a journalist held hostage in order to break the news? You get an awakard but intriguing premise.
Blind Angels sets out to bring awerness to a sensitive topic–terrorists acquiring nuclear bombs and detonating them within the US. The thought automatically catches attention in begining but the production crashes down for the rest of the duration.
The decline is due to a number of issues all of which are rooted in the script by Dick Brukenfeld. Firstly, the super melodramatic piece depends too highly on shock factor. It feels like one is being hit with a million things at one time and not in a positive way. Why? Because these bumps in the road, thanks to the way the script is written, hold no substance. They are just there.
The characters either don’t make sense or are not loveable. Not even in the “I love to hate them kind of way” . Take for example Sadri (Francesco Campari). He taught at a universty and worked with the government. He is also the mastermind who breaks the code of a nuclear weapon using mathetical genius. Yet still it is him who comes up with the blind idoic idea to detonate the bomb in Manhattan–it makes no sense. The writer however tries to connect the dots by tying the action to the pain of losing a favorite aunt (via drone strike) and a want to protect the US from other attacks. This is also wrapped in the idea that the US is creating enemies through their actions–foes who have access to nuclear weapons.
The problem with all this is the execution. It would have been better to see this aunt at the center of this story even for five minutes to see her interact with her loved ones so we get an idea of how much they loved her and she loved them. Instead there is no empathy. Making the idea of activism terrorism just plan terrorism.
To be honest I’m not so sure how this play portrays the muslim community. It may have set out to shine good light on the individuals but instead it seemed in bad taste to have the characters move for violence. No matter how it is sliced or diced violence is violence and I am not sure the muslim community needs another film, song, book or play linking them to terrosim.
Why not try something new; have the intelligent Sadri take a Ghandi/Martin Luther King Jr approach? For example return home and create a peaceful movement against the strikes which his journalist bestfriend documents.
Returning to the issues with characters Aaron (Scott Raker) the lead is a character who has water for a back bone. He is easily ok with situations that would normally draw larger (human) reactions. Not even in private do we see him feel the sting of certain agnoizing news like his ex-girlfriend loving someone else. Thus his character is not really relateable.
Then there is Yusuf (Alok Tewari) the only character to build some kind of connection with the audience but fails to grip as he tight as he could have. The part of Danny played by Qurrat Ann Kadwani also could be written better–maybe give her more to do than just be pretty. Another choice would be to remove her completely.
That said all the actors like Cythia Granville who plays Hammond( a senator) gave it their all.
Other problems include too much talking and about unimportant things. The play could do without certain love interests because they serve no true purpose except make the lead (Aaron) a more hateable character.
The good: set design by Brandon McNeel was superb as well as direction by Melissa Attebery. Anthony Mattana’s orignal music and sound design are memorable–arguably one of the best parts of the show.
In all I unfortunately wouldn’t reccomend seeing this show. Unless you really have nothing better to do. That said the writer has the potential for something great within this play but some different arrangment is needed for the script.
You can watch Blind Angels at The Theater for the New City. 155 first ave.
Blind Angels: Written by Dick Brukenfeld and directed by Melissa Attebery.
With: Scott Raker(Aaron), Francesco Campari(Sadri), Alok Tewari(Yusuf), Qurrat Ann Kadwani(Danny), Cynthia Granville(Hammond). J. Alan Hanna(assistant director/stage manager/production manager), Brandon Mcneel (set design), Alexander Bartenieff(light design), Anthony Mattana(original music and sound design), Sylvianne Shurman(costume design), Giovanni Villari(fight choreographer), Ltyza R.Colon (props/sets), Tashika Futch(assistant stage manager), Mark Marcante (master carpenter/set construction) and Erin Treacy(painter of displayed art on set).