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RANGOON OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS
Opening Night: May 31, 2012
Synopsis: This contemporary play spans from the Bible belt to Rangoon, Burma. A family of Indian immigrants must deal with seductions of American life, while trying to keep its heritage alive. RANGOON is funny and tragic— a quintessential 21st century American tale.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:
"Dhiraj, the Indian immigrant father in Mayank Keshaviah’s unsatisfying play “Rangoon,” a Pan Asian Repertory production, is like a Tiger Dad mixed with a Jewish mother. He loves to guilt-trip his children and has such high expectations for them that when his son brings home an excellent report card, he still gets scolded: “An A minus is not an A.” Uptight and upright, Dhiraj (Faizul Khan), the manager of a 7-Eleven in the South, works his fingers to the bone, as he reminds his American-born children, to pay for their college educations. And he wants them to respect him as they would if this were some other time (his youth) and some other place (India). "
"As the manager of a 7-Eleven in the rural South, Dhiraj Patel (Faizul Khan) is the sort of person who isn't much noticed, or afforded much respect when he is. But he's putting a smart daughter (Anita Sabherwal) through college and working killer hours to send off his son (Adeel Ahmed), a high school jock who doesn't much look like college material. Dhiraj's wife (a lovely warm perf from Sunita S. Mukhi) understands and stands by her man, showing her love by cooking him Indian comfort food. But his Americanized children, heartless little brutes that they are, complain about daddy's long work hours, mock his old-fashioned values and accuse him of being obsessed with making money. And his cousin (James Rana, playing it cool), who owns a string of 7-Eleven franchises, refuses to take him into the business because of his rude manners and black temper, neither of which is much in evidence here. "
"Though “Rangoon” concerns a family of East Indian immigrants in the rural South, it plays like a curry-flavored homage to “Death of a Salesman.” Mayank Keshaviah’s well-meaning drama for the Pan Asian Repertory, about a family patriarch struggling to adapt to American ways, suffers from its plot contrivances and blatant borrowings.
The central character is Dhiraj, the 50-year-old manager of a 7-Eleven who’s desperate to give his children better lives than his own. Meanwhile, his college-student daughter, Tejal, is afraid to tell him that she’s dating a white classmate, while his son, Vinay, a high school underachiever, infuriates him with his irreverent greeting of “Yo, D!”
"Playwright Mayank Keshaviah explores an Indian immigrant's struggle to reach his idealized version of the American dream in Rangoon, now being presented by Pan Asian Repertory at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row. And while the well-intentioned play is filled (to the point of being overstuffed) with important issues, the production, directed with a perfunctory bluntness by Raul Aranas, only sporadically sparks to life. "
"In a program note for “Rangoon,” playwright Mayank Keshaviah cites a plethora of influences: Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” a 2006 New York Times article on allegations of racial bias among federal prosecutors, and Mira Kamdar’s novel “Motiba’s Tattoos,” as well as his own research on Burma’s Indian community. So many sources of inspiration can sometimes result in a rich and heady meditation on a particular topic, but Keshaviah’s treatment of the immigrant experience in post–Sept. 11 America is just jumbled and confusing as it tries to cover too much territory. Director Raul Aranas’ slack production for Pan Asian Repertory Theatre doesn’t help matters."
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