Actor, writer, and former correspondent for "The Daily Show" Aasif Mandvi brings his vibrant, comic, and heartwarming one-man show back to the New York stage 20 years after its Obie-winning debut.
"Sakina’s Restaurant" centers on an Indian immigrant who comes to New York to work at a restaurant and live the American dream.
“’Sakina’s Restaurant’ is full of heart...It is fresh, witty and has much to share...Senior breaks the fourth wall and allows us to really get to know each of these characters flaws and all. She brings out Mandvi’s sensitivity...With just a scarf, a tube dress, a hat, a coat, Mandvi blends in and out of each of these individuals, so that by the end of the play we feel as if we know each one...An important play as it shows Muslim life without the politically and socially ‘PC’ issues of today.” Full Review
"At its funniest, which is often also its most uncomfortable, it has gained a new resonance...Mandvi does not need much to segue from one character to another. Sometimes it’s a small accessory, but mostly he simply modifies his posture, slightly tweaks the way he speaks...'Sakina’s Restaurant' has acquired a new, somber underlining, making us miss a time when ignorance was paired with benign disinterest rather than hate." Full Review
"It now feels both timely and dated...The characters deliver not so much monologues but rather dialogues in which we're privy only to their end of the conversation...The play features several amusing episodes...But the evening generally trades in more serious matters as it deals with issues of cultural dislocation and assimilation...The actor shifts effortlessly among the various characters...Senior stages the evening in impeccable fashion." Full Review
"Director Kimberly Senior has apparently brought out the best of Mandvi who never seems less than himself even as he impersonates a number of other people. It's a tour de force performance that places us in his ever-changing reality." Full Review
“'Sakina’s Restaurant' beautifully and hilariously observes what happens to individuals when they feel they do not have a land to call their own. This wise, impactful observation sneaks up on you in-between physical comedy and brief, moral myths. No matter what, Aasif Mandvi magically uses his time, presence, and the stage as evidence that his talent goes beyond smart laughs; it weaves tales with enlightening, human commentary.” Full Review
“Mandvi brings his funny, poignant and timely one-man show about Indian immigrants in NYC back...Although there are a few instances where it isn’t immediately apparent which character he has suddenly transformed into, Mandvi handles the transitions deftly, some characters feel more lived-in than others...’Sakina's Restaurant’ serves as a welcome antidote to the anti-immigrant vitriol coming out of the White House and cropping up across the country." Full Review
“Senior engages the audience from the first beat of ‘Sakina’s Restaurant’....Azgi’s likability is a big part of the success of this play, in which Mandvi also portrays five other characters...His sensitivity and sincerity carry him seamlessly out of one character, into the next...A layer of cultural Indian references also helps infuse the production with exotic flavors, fragrances and humor...With eyes closed, you might not realize that ‘Sakina’s Restaurant’ is a solo performance.” Full Review
"Mandvi plays all of his characters with respect, affection and warm humor. While those of Indian descent will certainly catch on to more of his details, there's a universal familiarity to be appreciated in 'Sakina's Restaurant,' particularly for New Yorkers sharing the most culturally diverse spot on the planet." Full Review
“Although the solo-play has its humorous moments, it is far from lighthearted...Mandvi morphs from one character to another with quicksilver speed...There are plenty of laughs. But some of the most powerful moments are serious...Traditional Indian stories interspersed into the piece serve as the theatrical glue to hold the disparate scenes together...It no doubt had cultural significance when it was staged off Broadway two decades ago. But it has gained a new painful pertinence." Full Review
"The play...focuses on the personal rather than the political — and in that respect, it's barely aged at all...Mandvi is most convincing when playing characters furthest from him in age and gender...During the weaker monologues, the holes in Mandvi's solo approach appear...'Sakina's Restaurant' succeeds on its own terms...Mandvi and Senior have assembled a mountain of stories, characters, and dreams. Even though cracks show here and there, their work is still impressive when viewed as a whole." Full Review
“There is a lot of yes, yes, yes as we empathize with these characters’ journeys. There is not, however, some specific element that ties them all together...Although Mandvi is a mercurial actor, sincere and possession a kind of innocence that you cannot fake, he never transcends the sadness of the material...He makes the cardinal error of repeating the lines of the unseen characters so that we can understand what is going on. This is a fantastically unnecessary element.” Full Review
"The Mumbai-born performer seamlessly transitions into a half dozen different characters before our eyes, giving each a unique posture and vocal inflection that summons their individual personalities...It’s tour-de-force acting...It’s a pity that Mandvi’s script...doesn’t quite match the depth and dramatic power of his performance...Since Mandvi’s confident performance smooths over many of the rough edges of his script, 'Sakina’s Restaurant' delivers a mostly satisfying meal." Full Review
"With its sympathetic portrayal of immigrants as they adjust to a new life and face questions of cultural identity, the play takes on an extended significance...Mandvi displays ingenuity and agility as a character actor. But while one can certainly appreciate the play’s heart and endearing simplicity, 'Sakina’s Restaurant' feels rather underwhelming today...More like a collection of sentimental, broadly sketched monologues than a fully developed work in its own right." Full Review
"Best enjoyed as a showcase for the actor...Through changes in gesture, inflection and accent, he switches characters at the drop of a scarf...As a playwright, however, Mandvi doesn't fare as well. 'Sakina's Restaurant is a succession of thin slices of life'...The play is more nostalgic than resonant: a bittersweet '90s period piece about a less xenophobic time, when the children of immigrants were more worried about things like arranged marriages than about forced separation and deportation." Full Review
"The name Sakina means tranquility, or calmness; and that’s what you’ll feel when you enter 'Sakina’s Restaurant,' thanks to genial narrator/author Aasif Mandvi...Though Mandvi returns to Azgi between characters, his portrayals of the Hakims—especially Farrida and Sakina—are the most insightful...They’re also disappointingly brief, especially compared with Mr. Hakim’s endless harangue...We get it—dad speeches are supposed to be long and repetitive. But only in real life." Full Review
“We get not only the conventional examples of culture shock so many immigrants have experienced but also insights into the aspirations and disappointments of the family for which Agzi works...While some moments are deeply emotional, Mandvi's performance is largely comedic, often broadly so…Culture clashes can make for fine comedy, as so many plays and movies have demonstrated, but 'Sakina's Restaurant' too often seems clichéd, offering little we haven't seen or heard already.” Full Review
See it if If you like Aasif Mandvi in Disgraced, if you like extraordinary one-man shows and if you want to really enjoy good theater.
Don't see it if You cannot understand anyone without a New York accent, or are not interested in the lives of immigrants.
See it if You're up for the amazing talent of a solo performer acting multiple roles in a multicultural performance about immigrant experiences.
Don't see it if You want bland entertainment without an agenda.
See it if you like Aasif Mandvi and are prepared to like him even more when you discover that he is not only a funny man but a talented actor-writer.
Don't see it if you don't like one-man shows in which the actor plays multiple characters of different genders
See it if you enjoy a great one-man show exploring themes of immigration. Aasif switches characters so seamlessly and with love it is a joy to watch.
Don't see it if you don't enjoy an intimate portrayal of life among those new to America and seeing the world through their eyes. Funny and touching.
See it if You are interested in contemplating the difficulties that immigrants and their children face in the U.S.
Don't see it if You dislike one-person shows.
Also This show struck a perfect balance between amusement and poignancy.
See it if You like storytelling and are interested in learning about values from other cultures and ways of life. Aasif is incredible.
Don't see it if A full cast play is more of what you are looking for.
See it if Revival of an Indian-Immigrant's pursuit of the America he wants to be welcoming. Cheering for him, Mandvi assumes multiple roles. Topical.
Don't see it if Brief solo show. Dialects. Switched gender roles are cringey.
See it if you are a fan of the art of STORYTELLING and are interested in the topic of 2nd-generation immigrants' loss of cultural connection
Don't see it if you are not a fan of one-person shows
See it if You love Aasif Mandvi and want to laugh, cry and learn about the Indian immigrant experience.
Don't see it if You dislike one man shows where the actor plays every part, regardless of gender. You find discussions about the immigrants boring.
See it if Surprised it was written 20 yrs. ago & is so timely today! 90 minutes flew by. Enjoyed much.
Don't see it if you don't like solo shows, with 1 actor playing all roles. No intermission productions.
See it if you enjoy solo works with an enjoyable mix of humor, drama & pathos, on immigrant topics; you're a fan of the multitalented Aasif Mandvi.
Don't see it if you need a much faster pace and prefer an ensemble cast & formal sets/props. Some sketches seemed to go on longer than needed ...
See it if you want an inside glimpse into the lives of Indian immigrants as told by Aasif Mandvi as he transforms from one character into the next.
Don't see it if you don't care for one-person shows, prefer to have a plot rather than short (but connected) stories
See it if You enjoy one-man shows. Want to support POC theatre that examines the immigrant experience in the US.
Don't see it if You dislike one-man shows. Particularly ones wherein the actor, when portraying women, tends to create caricatures mores than characters.
See it if You like Aasif Mandvi and want to see him playing multiple characters.
Don't see it if You hate one-man shows. You cant enjoy a show if the characters (especially the females) are a little clichéd.
See it if you like immigrant stories and/or one person shows. Mandvi adeptly morphs into and embodies the different characters. Good transitions.
Don't see it if you aren't interested in the story of an immigrant community. Also, see below.
See it if you're a fan of Mandvi, like solo shows, remember the 6th St./Indian Row of the '90s (as I do); for a glimpse inside an immigrant family.
Don't see it if you're afraid the 20-year-old show may feel dated; solo-show tropes such as long one-sided conversations aren't your thing.
Also Mandvi is charming, but this show left me wanting.
See it if You are prepared for a Mandvi show that’s not very funny. I don’t think he’s going for laughs most of the time.
Don't see it if You expect hilarity or a contemporary treatment of Muslim immigrant life. This play is set in 1998 and was apparently written a while back.
See it if You like Mandvi or one person, many role shows. It was written at a better time, but never caught on for me.
Don't see it if You want new insights into the immigrant experience.
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