Mosque4Mosque with About Face Theatre, directed by Sophiyaa Nayar
While the complicated characters of “Mosque4Mosque” often make
choices that hurt themselves or their loved ones, they also make
sacrifices for each other and band together in the toughest of
circumstances. The play offers a picture of resilience, but not in a
romanticized sense — it’s honest about human flaws and ends on a
somber, uncertain note that belies the label of comedy. One can
only hope that this family will find their way back to Sara’s kitchen
table where they can all laugh together again.
But it is Salem’s witty writing style that shines throughout this production. Through his use of comedic relief, Salem drives sensitive topics forward in a way that allows the audience to lean into the conversation. We first meet Ibrahim in a church. Ibrahim’s holy confession is amusing, but it is a monumental scene because it instantly forms a reverent connection between religions and dissects the contrasts between Catholic and Muslim guilt... Even with all the hardships, Salem never forgets what makes these families so special. It’s the chaotic family dinners. It’s the unbreakable sibling bond between Lena and Ibrahim. It’s Sara’s willingness to create a dating profile for her son on a queer Muslim “rearranged arranged marriage” website.
Around the Town
Our hero in the story is Ibrahim ( a wonderful performance by Omer Abbas Salem as he tells us about what might be his true story). He is an Arab-American Muslim. He resides with his mother, (Rula Gardenier) a widow and his younger sister, Lena ( played to perfection by Gloria Imseih Petrelli).
Chicago Theater Review
The cast is impeccable. Omer Abbas Salem, who also wrote this fascinating play, is funny and provocative as Ibrahim. But the young actor also takes us on his journey of trying to have his cake and eat it too. The fact that he doesn’t fully realize the mistake he’s made until the last minute, when everything seems to be coming down on top of him, makes Ibrahim’s story that much more melancholy and moving. Mr. Salem creates a strong character who audiences will remember for long time to come.