note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Carl A. Rossi
Sandahar … Amar Srivastava
Haji … Alan R. White
Sonia … Susan Gross
Kitty … Jennifer Madden
On the evening I attended Donna Sorbello’s new play THE EDUCATED, the audience consisted of Ms. Sorbello, three friends of the actors and myself. New works call for full houses: a playwright needs an audience’s current, not a few flickers, to tell him how fares his newborn and THE EDUCATED is worth developing, further --- and attending, too, damn it!
As an actress, Ms. Sorbello is a fine, sensitive tragedienne, trembling but stoic in the wind, and these qualities have found their way into THE EDUCATED: Sandahar and Haji, two Middle-Eastern graduate students, have been living in America since 9/11. Sandahar has adjusted to the pleasures of his new country while Haji keeps himself physically and spiritually pure. Though they profess their brotherhood as well as their friendship there is a wariness between them, a wariness that accelerates when Sandahar resumes an affair with Sonia, an American woman: what seems to be merely cultural differences tearing Sandahar apart becomes the realization that he has not so much been educated in America but, rather, trained for it…. Ms. Sorbello has opted for an engrossing character study instead of a political thriller; the evening begins slowly and the Sandahar-Haji exchanges sound like stiff translations but Ms. Sorbello is fortunate to have four good actors whose performances become critiques in themselves: if Amar Srivastava is destined to play every snarling exotic in the book at least the role of Sandahar gives him a chance to show his tender, romantic side, as well; with careful grooming Mr. Srivastava could become a leading man in his own right. Alan R. White’s Haji is alternately amusing and chilling in his narrow-mindedness and a tall, leggy newcomer named Jennifer Madden allures as a whacked-out stripper. Susan Gross has a perky guardedness about her that made her Scout so lethal (and lethally funny) in Zeitgeist’s POPCORN; happily, Ms. Gross’ Sonia shows what she can do when she lightens up and is most watchable.