An Ordinary Muslim
East Village
77

An Ordinary Muslim NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(130 Reviews)
Positive
80%
Mixed
20%
Negative
0%
Members say
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious

About the Show

New York Theatre Workshop presents playwright Hammaad Chaudry's professional debut, an exploration of what it means to be 'An Ordinary Musilim.'

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Member Reviews (130)

70
Verbose, Long, Uneven, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you're interested enough in the current situation for the British Pakistani community to overlook the stretches of pedestrian domestic drama

Don't see it if you have seen your share of lengthy domestic dramas with lots of intractable complications. Read more

71
Ambitious, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if a crisis of expectations define a Brit Pakistani duo-generational family in two-and-one-half hours. Fissures can't mend staunch fervour.

Don't see it if ethnocentric-familial drama stretched labouriously over two acts.

Critic Reviews (21)

February 26th, 2018

"A timely look at the traumas of dislocation among the children of Muslim immigrants in England, it seems a bit traumatized and dislocated itself, unable to control the gears of conflict to tell its story clearly...'An Ordinary Muslim' is an important work still struggling to emerge from a text filled with freshman problems...The most promising thing is the way its best moments seem to creep delicately out from under the rock of the author’s determination to make heavier points."
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February 26th, 2018

"Hammaad Chaudry makes an audacious if erratic professional debut...The play comes most excitingly to life when it probes the mental torment of being Muslim in an increasingly hostile Western culture...Chaudry and director Jo Bonney can’t sustain this one’s central family tension. Still, Azeem’s anguish is palpable whenever De Silva is front and center."
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February 26th, 2018

"'An Ordinary Muslim' is its playwright’s professional debut, and it’s an impressive one...The play feels solid, nurtured, strong-boned...Chaudry has created a meticulous, empathetic ensemble drama—all eight of his characters feel nuanced, human—but the heart of his pain is located in the father and son...Bonney does precise, powerful work with the entire cast, and it’s particularly wrenching—in that half-funny, half-excruciating, wholly recognizable way—when the generations lock horns."
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February 26th, 2018

"Chaudry smartly plants little seeds of conflict throughout his exposition, and with agrarian patience, the cast nurtures them into fruition. By encouraging such nuanced performances, director Jo Bonney expertly cultivates the slow-build nature of Chaudry's script...'An Ordinary Muslim' is a slow climb, but it's worth it once you get to the top and see Chaudry's bird's-eye perspective."
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March 1st, 2018

"There's so much going on in 'An Ordinary Muslim' that it feels less like a play and more like a pilot for a miniseries...There's plenty of rich material here, but it wants better sorting out...The best thing about 'An Ordinary Muslim' is the chance to spend time with its talented cast, although Jo Bonney's sluggish direction often leaves them at a disadvantage...This is a seriously undercooked piece that needs considerable rethinking if it is ever to be made to work. It tells too much and shows too little."
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February 26th, 2018

"It's exciting to see a new play centering on the Pakistani community and Chaudry's writing shows promise...A solid production with an excellent cast and a savvy director...However, there are problems...These people would never have the level of naivety Chaudry assigns them here simply for the wheels of his plot to keep turning...Worse still is the ridiculous political diatribe Chaudry goes on...Chaudry isn't really saying anything new or fresh in his play."
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March 14th, 2018

"The trouble is that there is nothing new or daring or particularly interesting about the play despite its intriguing subject matter. It is an old-fashioned play-think warmed over Clifford Odets with a touch of Chekhov and more than a few hints of Greek hubris-that deals with the treatment of Pakistani-British Muslims in Great Britain, specifically West London, 2011. It is full of clichéd writing including having characters appear just as their name is brought up."
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March 2nd, 2018

"In Chaudry’s riveting drama, both generations suffer. Familiar and marital ties are tested, as traditions are challenged and changing times place demands...Jo Bonney directs a uniformly excellent cast. Sanjit De Silva shines as Akeem, the prism through which these many complex issues are reflected. Desai plays his sister with spirit and style, and Bedi is affecting as Akeem’s distressed wife...Akeem faces an identity crisis that is far from 'ordinary,' as the play’s ironic title suggests."
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February 28th, 2018

"Chaudry is a dab hand at dialogue; and his narrative ambitions are prodigious....Director Bonney is in admirable control of this production. Her supervision of Chaudry's sometimes diffuse dramaturgy rescues the play's sundry themes and conflicting narrative directions from devolving into dramatic chaos...A good, if gangly, play. Bonney's direction of a fine cast and the beautifully integrated design make this an extraordinary production."
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March 12th, 2018

"There is no nuance here, and that unfortunately is the problem with much of the play...The first act is long...The second act is the gem hidden inside this conglomerate stone...This is a story that indeed needs to be told, to inform and remind...An important play in understanding a culture that is in a struggle with the world they find themselves in, but the over-writing can get in the way of the story and become a curtain we have to struggle to see through."
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March 6th, 2018

"Stunning...The Bhatti family is realistically gripping in its portrayal of a multi-generational family...Issues of money, marriage, parenting and respect run through this play, and it is clear that religion and faith are two different things...Bonney's excellent direction is evident throughout...A lot going on at once but it all comes together beautifully, and the actors stay in character even as the very floor they are standing on moves them away...An extraordinary experience."
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March 7th, 2018

"He might have just bitten off a bit more than he can chew, but for such a big juicy mouthful, 'An Ordinary Muslim' has some delicious flavors to savor, even when they sometimes overwhelm one another...Begins with a fantastic sister/brother dynamic that feels as real as it can get...Chaudry attempts to discuss it all, with great conflict on every level, and even though many of these complexities find their target and fill our hunger, too many flavors start to overwhelm our senses."
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March 2nd, 2018

"What happens to Azeem, how he reconciles his identity to his 'citizenship,' is the captivating and engaging story Mr. Chaudry develops with a commitment to authenticity and believability. Director Jo Bonney gently teases the pathos and ethos of the script and supports the actors’ choices throughout. These extraordinary actors expose the hypocrisy behind demanding Muslim citizens to be 'ordinary' and 'start integrating.'"
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February 26th, 2018

"Plodding, overlong. here and there a tad schmaltzy — but it is fascinating nonetheless for the authentic-feeling glimpses it gives into an adapting community...It’s frankly difficult to stay on Azeem’s side...His downward spiral starts to feel less a result of flaws in Azeem’s character than in Chaudry’s script...Sanjit De Silva does what he can with a role that calls for a surfeit of tirades. The rest of the eight-member cast has an easier time of it."
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February 26th, 2018

"He overloads the 2 ½-hour work with a few too many domestic drama clichés and an excess of political preaching that often undercuts the play’s effectiveness. It’s a problem that the veteran director Jo Bonney, who does terrific work with her cast, might have worked harder to fix...Chaudry unfortunately has both of them act less-than-believably at times...Still, only the hardest-hearted person could not feel genuine sympathy for any of the main characters."
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March 2nd, 2018

"The play, though imperfect, offers a fascinating glimpse of a middle-class Pakistani Muslim family…Engrossing as the material often is, the play changes direction too sharply from the politico-cultural to the domestic, becoming a standard family drama filled with the usual interpersonal angst, even including a whiff of infidelity. Without the ethnic context, it would be quite familiar…An exceptional company of actors…brings three-dimensional sincerity to Chaudry's dialogue."
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February 27th, 2018

"Hammaad Chaudry is a lucky man. His thesis advisor...was none other than Tony Kushner, who has helped steer his play through drastic revision and expansion...The playwright succeeds in capturing the difficulties of living in a society where one never feels welcome...The subplots...were confusing...I found the play was generally overstuffed and would be curious to see the 70-minute version...Bonney directs with her usual sure hand."
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February 26th, 2018

"Most effective when it recalls vintage material...The suspense, not to mention the sheer pathos, drives the play to its tragic, inevitable conclusion. More intellectual but equally riveting is Chaudry’s examination of the second-generation curse...De Silva finds precisely the right balance...What comes off as forced and unrealized are all the little dramas surrounding Akeem...They seem stuck on, and some of the supporting performances that have to carry these stories suffer."
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February 27th, 2018

"Contradictions make Azeem an unusually rich and complex protagonist. And Sanjit De Silva plays the role with a sympathetic blend of pride and intelligence overlain with mounting frustration...Under Bonney's fluid direction, their domestic and professional conflicts unfold in an intense-yet-understated naturalistic style reminiscent of Arthur Miller...Underlying that formal achievement is Chaudry’s dialogue, which has a spontaneous, improvised feel that sounds consistently authentic."
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February 27th, 2018

"A look back to immigration battles won and lost, and a look ahead to battles of assimilation...If there are too many stories attempting to be told here, there is much to admire in this fresh take on familiar themes, from family violence to marital compromise, all directed with elegance by Jo Bonney...In the end, each 'ordinary Muslim' in the play discovers that assimilation, should they wish it, requires a journey - of the parents to each other; of Saima to her faith; of Azeem to his self-respect."
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February 26th, 2018

"Chaudry nicely avoids the melodramatic paths his tale could take and focuses on the day-to-day psychological toll of what it means to be a Muslim...Akeem seethes with anger. The presentation of that anger, however, comes across as inconsistent, especially in the beginning of the second act...The structure of the play does not clarify that confusion...Chaudry, however, is revelatory with the presentation of his female characters...Bonney provides vibrant direction."
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