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An Ordinary Muslim

From 21 critic and 130 member reviews
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.' More…

Balancing the high expectations of the previous generation, the doctrines of their Muslim community, and the demands of secular Western culture, Azeem Bhatti and his wife Saima struggle to straddle the gap between their Pakistani heritage and their British upbringing. Obie Award winner Jo Bonney directs. 

Stage Buddy

"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." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"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.'" Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"'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." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Front Row Center

"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." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"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." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"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." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"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." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"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-re... Full Review

The Modernist Beat

"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." Full Review

The Wrap

"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." Full Review

New York Theater

"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." Full Review

The New York Times

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Time Out New York

"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." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"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 sh... Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Relevant

See it if you want to see a family from Pakistan living in London grapple with the pains and tensions between assimilation and cultural traditions.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with messy, confused, and selfish human beings seeking their place in their society and in their family/culture.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if just a great play about a man cast adrift in a life that he may not want because he doesn't really know who he is.

Don't see it if you're bored with discussions about roots, community, religion, identity.

Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you like thought provoking, timely shows.

Don't see it if you don't want to be challenged.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great writing, Intelligent, Profound

See it if a well written dramatic play about a family of immigrants living in London who are grappling with the effects of Islamophobia.

Don't see it if you are not open to experiencing a well written play about a family of Muslims.

Also Hammaad Chaudry’s new play, An Ordinary Muslim, is one of the best pla... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Ambitious, Profound, Relevant

See it if You like theater that challenges you, but does so with wit and without condescension. There is a great play here, though a little long.

Don't see it if You need action, and don’t like exposition. Don’t go if you’re bothered by race, religion, right and wrong, or simply don’t like to think.

Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You want to see a show where any nationality can be portrayed with the same life problems and aspirations. Excellent acting, too!

Don't see it if You are not into family dramas.

Great acting, Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Resonant

See it if you want to see a different play and learn about a different culture

Don't see it if you want a fluffy play

Profound, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense, Absorbing

See it if You are interested in learning some elements of Muslim culture, history, and family dynamics, presented by excellent committed actors

Don't see it if You are not interested in the culture and need a lot of action to enjoy a show

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if Well acted. See if you are interested in problems of immigrants and assimilation

Don't see it if You have problems with resentful main characters who are flawed

Also This show was about the problems of class mobility as much as the assi... Read more Read less

Relevant, well-written, riveting

See it if for the complex tapestry of ideas and characters, for the direct and current dialog on religion, tolerance & identity and for great acting.

Don't see it if you're looking for something lighter or less "talky", or if you're expecting a play to also resolve the difficult questions it raises.

Absorbing, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You are inspired by Family drama

Don't see it if Religion portrayed in the theater bothers you

Intense, Relevant, Refreshing, Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if you are interested in what's it like to be a muslim in England today. Questions about faith, moral and society.

Don't see it if you don't like family dramas

Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you enjoy a fully realized play that goes well beyond the cliches of stereotypes to present complexities within all people.

Don't see it if you aren't into a mostly serious theatrical experience that explores racism, religion, and the complications of family and relationships.

Great acting, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You like theatre that explores the political, social, cultural, and family issues that face Pakistani Muslim immigrants.

Don't see it if You are unwilling to consider the impact of racial and religious discrimination and cultural differences.

Absorbing, Edgy, Intense, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if you would like an insight into assimilation, spousal abuse and religion

Don't see it if you are not interested in learning about other cultures.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Relevant

See it if You enjoy a relevant piece of theatre that engages socio-politicalissues of our time.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy a thought-provoking experience, or if you cannot appreciate a workshop type environment.

Also While the script itself could use a little more revision, the show as ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Delightful, Cliched

See it if You love getting the chance to see a group of actors dominates the stage. If you love supporting voices of color or if you just a good show.

Don't see it if If you don't like table dramas or angry young men talking about their anger.

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if I had trouble hearing the father yet his acting made up for it as he was the role. This was a human story of the struggles of a family

Don't see it if You have no empathy

Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Second act veers into soap opera

See it if you're interested in a play about the Muslim experience in the western world.

Don't see it if you don't have patience for a new playwright learning his craft.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you are aware of and concerned with the prejudice against minorities and the resulting damage to all involved.

Don't see it if you do not want to be exposed to anger and violence both physical and psychological. The ripple effect of damage is profound

Absorbing, Clever, Must see, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if You enjoy family-oriented stories or have ever wondered about the nature of "Home."

Don't see it if You like one-dimensional portrayals of Muslim characters in all other forms of media.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy dramas with contemporary political themes of immigrant assimilation and Muslim acculturation in Britain.

Don't see it if You want a shorter lighter experience and have little interest in the Muslim assimilation experience.

Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant, Relevant

See it if you appreciate a well written topical play exploring the challenges of immigration and assimilation. Thoroughly satisfying.

Don't see it if you have issues with immigration from India an Muslims or a plot which is somewhat predictable.

Thought-provoking, Family drama, Muslim immigrant experience, Absorbing, A lot going on

See it if you are interested in a complex family drama that highlights the muslim immigrant experience and has a big emotional pay-off at the end

Don't see it if want a light uplifting evening

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Slow

See it if You become absorbed by family dramas. The context of the family being Muslim in England makes it special. I learned a lot

Don't see it if You want something edgy and hilarious

Also The writing was very good, as was the acting, directing and the set wh... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (15)