Closed 1h 45m
The Profane
Midtown W
78

The Profane NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(95 Reviews)
Positive
87%
Mixed
12%
Negative
1%
Members say
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Absorbing, Great acting

About the Show

Playwrights Horizons presents Zayd Dohrn’s timely drama featuring two families forced to confront each other’s religious beliefs, cultural traditions, and their own deep-seated prejudice.

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Member Reviews (95)

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95
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Clever, Edgy, Refreshing

See it if Culture clash between a secular liberal Muslim family and a fundamentalist one. Which one is more tolerant?

Don't see it if You are not interested in an exploration of traditional vs. modern values, and how people differ from what their backgrounds might suggest. Read more

83
Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy family dramas that explore cultural differences (here between 2 Muslim families) with a few twists thrown in

Don't see it if You don't like family dramas with arguing and limited fighting, not interested in portraits of Muslim life in the US or cultural differences

Critic Reviews (28)

April 10th, 2017

"Directed with restraint by Fagan and imbued with uncommon humanity by an impressive cast, 'The Profane' is by turns warm and wary, combative and conciliatory...Dohrn is examining the cultural unease between the secular and the fundamentalist...An emotionally charged secret...becomes the play’s big reveal—a tangled, wobbly moment that doesn’t land with anywhere near the force it needs...By contrast, the rest of the play feels organic even in its intellectual sparring."
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April 10th, 2017

"The play itself is unengaging, it suffers from lurches of illogic and a haphazard approach to character...'The Profane' doesn't work...Arguments spring up that could have easily been avoided by prior conversations, the hallmark of a play that doesn't believe in its own offstage life...The talented Kip Fagan directs, and his impulse to lean into the text's surface realism exacerbates the weak writing...In a few spots, performances make up for the under-developed characters."
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April 9th, 2017

"Imagine 'Meet the Parents' but with two Muslim immigrant families and you’ll get something a bead on author Zayd Dohrn’s timely and topical but frustratingly incomplete and unevenly acted play...Things turn ugly — and contrived. And unresolved, which isn’t inherently a weakness, but the drama feels like a first draft. Two fine things emerge: Heather Raffo’s well-wrought turn as Emina’s mother, and the author’s evergreen observation that parents really don’t know who their children are."
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April 9th, 2017

"All of Dohrn's characters are drawn with intricate complexity: a web of contradicting ideals, impulses, and behavior — they feel like real people...While Dohrn has convincingly written individuals, he heartbreakingly dramatizes the tragedy of them not listening to one another...Dohrn tantalizes us by revealing narrow passageways through which understanding could flow. He also shows us how easily they can be dammed up in a rush of grandstanding sanctimony."
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April 17th, 2017

“The conflicts that arise when future in-laws meet for the first time have been a traditional source of comedy for both stage and screen. But Zayd Dohrn takes a dramatic twist on the subject...Director Kip Fagan's production is brisk and simple and features a fine cast. While 'The Profane' has a very interesting setup, the text, while entertaining, needs to dig a little deeper to bring out the layers of its subject.”
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April 21st, 2017

"Simultaneously one of the most interesting and frustrating new plays to open in the last several weeks...Dohrn provides plenty of crackling dialogue...The bombshell, when it finally drops, is pretty spectacular...But at this point 'The Profane' is on a fast track to its conclusion...Dohrn has planted a great deal of drama in his play, but he ignites only a portion of it...Fortunately, Kip Fagan's direction keeps thing fast, funny, and tense, aided by a cast alive to the play's many nuances."
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April 10th, 2017

"The problem with both the play and Kip Fagan's stylish but laid-back production of it is that the inherent differences don't lead to anything more heated than a brief tiff...This would matter less if Dohrn didn't set the stage for a serious conflagration of competing ideas...The individual characters could be drawn more fully, too...Fagan has directed it all a bit like a sitcom, which can suck the air out of some of the more loaded moments, but he does keep things moving fluidly."
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April 10th, 2017

"Slight and unsatisfying...As a theater piece, Dohrn's premise has potential but his execution is deficient...The perfunctory ending leaves the audience confused until they realize that it’s time to applaud. Nothing is very compelling. Director Kip Fagan’s staging is basic and doesn’t add much to the presentation...Mr. Fagan’s work with the actors is equally indistinct...'The Profane' strives for topical relevance but is undone by its blandness and generic approach."
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April 9th, 2017

"Dohrn’s promising but ultimately disappointing drama...Dohrn plots his dramatic tale with meticulous, sometimes too meticulous, detail...For all its potential for heavy-handedness, 'The Profane' doesn’t seem simplistic or contrived, at least not initially...When Dania’s history is finally revealed, it seems like a strained, unlikely narrative. The play, carefully structured to lead to its climax and lovingly guided there by director Kip Fagan, sputters out and dies."
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April 10th, 2017

"Dohrn engagingly develops his story without making anyone a villain...The playwright cleverly reverses the attitudes and behaviors of the characters in each family...To Zayd Dohrn's credit, he continues to use the world around us to create timely plays that don't rely on easy happy endings to complex beginnings. Kip Fagan, too, deserves credit for supervising a beautifully staged production and eliciting believable performances from the 7-member cast."
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April 11th, 2017

“It is in the discovery of the secret that this play heads out of the corral for parts unknown…Raif’s rage is at a steady 60 mph from the start, and this is never explained in a way that fills in the blanks. So when it erupts in an unbelievable manner we are left stymied. The actors, to a person, execute their parts with sensitivity and skill. But the story’s path ties them up in knots they cannot untie…‘The Profane’ force-feeds us too much for too long with no payoff.”
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April 9th, 2017

"What Dohrn does in 'The Profane' is attempt to dissect the nature of dissent, not only how people who seem so similar are in fact so different, but also why?...Kip Fagan’s energetic direction brings the play to life without seeming overly intellectual, choosing instead to go down the darkly comedic, almost farcical route...Where 'The Profane' truly excels is when it catches its characters, and us, completely off guard."
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April 9th, 2017

"It’s a sharply constructed piece and surprising in its authenticity, but what's not surprising is that, when confronted by the extreme differences of another, we flail and fall back on prejudiced preconceived notions bolstering intolerance...Dohrn had me completely entwined in the conflict as it slowly unfolds in this quick two-act play...But the final scene threw me for a loop...Maybe I wanted a more neatly wrapped up wedding present that showed resolution and a breakthrough."
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April 14th, 2017

"Cloyingly earnest...The actors do what they can with an uneven script that relies on pandering to the upper-class white Playwrights Horizons audience, using tropes and a checklist of platitudes...Because the play never specifies where exactly these Muslim families find the origins of their conflict, the play lies in an uncomfortable plane of existence that some will find profoundly universal and that others will find straight-up grating."
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April 10th, 2017

“A potentially button-pushing but ultimately unsatisfactory new play…Sorry to say, Dohrn's play, which has some excellent scenes, sprightly humor, and lively dialogue, is superficial, formulaic, and burdened by a plot contrivance that will spin your head faster than Linda Blair's…Kip Fagan's direction is briskly paced but…being so broad, he doesn't resolve the play's uneasy tension between domestic comedy and idea-related drama.”
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April 9th, 2017

"The cast is all perfect in their roles with Francis Benhamou standing out in two vastly different character choices. Director Kip Fagan keeps this show moving and allows this tale to unfold...Though Zayd Dohrn’s dialogue flows, some of the ideas do not...The whole plot seems implausible...Though beautiful, I was left lost in translation."
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B
April 9th, 2017

“Most of the characters are vividly written, to the degree that I was eager to know more about their stories. Many of the family relationships ring true…I am ambivalent about the title and a plot point that increases the drama but clouds the message. The set by Takeshi Kata creates two attractive but quite different homes…The direction by Kip Fagan is unfussy. I was thoroughly caught up in the play until the final scene. I wish the author had come up with a stronger ending.”
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April 9th, 2017

"Following the first act of 'The Profane' is something of a trial because there’s almost no subtext...Also, many of the performances are pitched too high, as if to compensate for the flatness of the language...Act 2 improves...But after the long build-up...resolution is so hastily dispatched that it turns risible...Dohrn shows little ability to gently introduce a conflict, let it simmer, and then delay its climax and resolution. Director Kip Fagan shares that penchant for instant gratification."
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April 19th, 2017

"The play exudes a heavy-handed earnestness that wouldn't be out of place on one of those network TV shows that like to take on the latest hot-button topic...I agree that a playwright of Middle Eastern descent like Ayad Akhtar or Mona Mansour might have provided more nuance but I don't think that Dohrn's effort should be automatically dissed. The issues of class and identity that he raises are valid. And he and director Kip Fagan treat them with respect and sensitivity."
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April 9th, 2017

"Under Kip Fagan’s brisk direction, that conflict smolders promisingly at first...The problems begin at the end of Act One when Dohrn decides to introduce a gratuitous twist into what is already dramatically rich material...'The Profane' is nonetheless well acted throughout and, in the shape of Emina, Dohrn offers a thoughtful portrayal of why many second-generation Muslim immigrants today seem inclined to embrace their parents’ faith with renewed fervour."
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April 13th, 2017

"Dohrn hasn’t strayed far from the formula, which includes parent-child friction, sibling rivalry and the occasional dollop of comical culture clash...Dohrn gets many details right...One senses the playwright’s thumb on the drama...Although the plotting occasionally jars, much is helped by superb acting...And the freshness of two different Muslim families being at the center is an effective hook. If Dohrn’s ambitions outstrip his execution, he still provides an evening with much to chew over."
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April 9th, 2017

"This one by Zayd Dohrn creeps up on you...Turns out the playwright perhaps could have done a better job of identifying the beliefs and points of view of the characters...Suffice to say that the play explores many avenues and points of view...There's definitely another play in here as there were too many unexplored avenues...I would certainly look forward to hearing the playwrights expounding on any number of the avenues he explored in this excellent family drama."
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April 19th, 2017

"Dohrn's indictment of secular prejudice is the most interesting element of what proves to be, otherwise, a carefully staged but overly familiar tale...There's no question that the public needs nuanced engagement with the Muslim-American world. But 'The Profane,' despite crisp staging and a strong ensemble cast, doesn't offer complex insights. Its plot is too cookie-cutter, its revelations too predictable: families and worldviews conveniently opposed."
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April 22nd, 2017

"We've seen some elements of 'The Profane' before...However, Zayd Dohrn brings a different, fascinating focus to these materials...'The Profane' is a stimulating play, effectively directed by Trip Cullman and performed by a consistently fine ensemble."
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April 21st, 2017

“A big, topical, controversy-filled, heaving, seething knot of subjects…Fagan stages beautifully, moves his actors as if they were responding to their own impulses…In performance levels, all the adults, the parents, are splendid, seasoned pros, reach all of the audience right to the back rows...But the young actors haven’t the same strengths, the same ability to project their performances, their crucial performances…They do disservice, indeed, damage, to the play."
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April 21st, 2017

“The first act is bogged down by forced exposition…Tolerance is a liberal value but so is standing up for civil and human rights. Liberals are currently fighting over where the balance between these two principles lies, but sadly, ‘The Profane,’ does little to enrich the conversation…While there are many engaging stretches that give ‘The Profane’ momentum and make it fairly easy to watch, I kept craving real tension instead of the manufactured antics on display.”
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April 9th, 2017

"Wading out into these waters isn’t an impossible task, but it may well be ill-advised, and it’s hard not to cringe when the play traffics in ethnic and religious stereotypes...The situation here crackles with a kind of energy. It could use more exploration. But 'The Profane,' even if it shakes off its slow start, is weighed down with too much weakness, especially the too often clunky dialogue and the seemingly tacked-on last scene."
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April 18th, 2017

"These people weren't people; they were vehicles for differing views...Dohrn throws out the two most binary points of view, juxtaposes their stereotypes, and calls it a day. Honestly, it's a little too easy and a little lazy. The script is a lot of tell, and very little show...Kip Fagan's direction seems almost too light. The play lives in such a cerebral places that it never really settles into itself...The thoughts don't land, the language gets old, and the rhetoric gets tiresome."
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