The Semitic Root presents an immersive murder mystery loosely inspired by the unnamed Arab character killed in Albert Camus' novel 'The Stranger.' More…
Audience members enter a traditional Arab storytelling café, where for centuries masters of the oral tradition wove tales of intrigue. Experience French Algiers on the brink of revolution, and witness three Arab brothers vie for the love of the same woman. Their bitter rivalry ends only when one is gunned down by a French stranger. Written by Betty Shamieh ('Fit for a Queen') and directed by May Adrales ('Vietgone').
"A gigantic story, enveloping us with a whole universe of fascinating intrigue...The cast is also a stellar bunch...Brilliantly directed by May Adrales, 'The Strangest' is ferociously funny. The production is also dazzling in its style: the original music and sound design breathe life into the story and give it incredible auditory dynamics...'The Strangest' tells a story that’s alarmingly familiar... But 'The Strangest' is also about the ultimate victory of the defenseless." Full Review
"A dynamic immersive production...Lighting and sound effects play pivotal characters in this play in their own right, illustrating sequence of time, drama and a seamless segue between stories with masterful execution...The production taps into a hybrid of cultural themes: Arab storytelling techniques with Western theatrical practices in a way that illuminates the strengths and similarities of both performance traditions. I recommend catching this limited engagement." Full Review
"A beautiful aesthetic is only the surface of what makes it memorable...Shamieh proves herself to be an expert in crafting strong, nuanced female leads...Antaramian is the star of the show, handling the heavy and sometimes overwhelmingly complex themes with grace...The valiantly hard-hitting themes sometimes proved to be too big and too many when packed into too tight a space. Overall, however, Shamieh’s 'The Strangest' presents a story that is lovingly told and admirably staged." Full Review
"Does not lack surprises. Adrales’s direction features an assortment of reveals, achieved by curtains on either side of the stage that pull back to show characters in both comedic and dramatic cameos...The ensemble of actors is strong and thoughtful...Where 'The Strangest' needs polish is its veritable hodgepodge of genres...Shamieh gives voice to the quite literally voiceless and nameless character of Camus’ limited world. For this reason, 'The Strangest' is an adaptation worth seeing." Full Review
“The story is not for the faint of heart; it is not only set in a time strife with political and cultural turmoil, but is strewn with violence, sexual assault, and the everyday struggles of the lower class and between families…‘The Strangest’ is a hard-hitting show that opens up New Yorkers to a different world than they’re used to.” Full Review
“Antaramian and Tewari have a steadying presence, but the younger cast members distractingly dial up their acting. They are not quite up to the script’s challenges, which mix Arabic storytelling flourishes and Ionesco-like absurdism…But then, the writing can be slapdash, too, in its pursuit of big targets…It’s a lot to tackle, and ‘The Strangest’ stumbles honorably. Perhaps Ms. Shamieh should have trusted her setting more. In close quarters, a story can be told simply, and it will be heard.” Full Review
“Noble, if misguided…The concept is a potent one. The execution? Not so much…A tale-within-a-tale that has a lot of big ideas but a sloppy way of getting them across…Unfortunately, Shamieh’s characters are presented as types, a quality badly accentuated by most of the performances…There's plenty to recommend ‘The Strangest’ in spirit...But in practice, Shamieh’s tall tale never quite connects.” Full Review
"It is a noble experiment, but Camus’ existentialism sits uneasily with Shamieh and The Semitic Roots' 'activist agenda'...For a play that’s all about mystery, little is left to the imagination...More than which son will get murdered, many in the audience may wonder why the playwright spent so much time on Layali and her sexual adventures if she was really trying to make a comment on French colonialism. In the end the real mystery is what is this all about?" Full Review
See it if You want to know more about Algeria, and the struggle of her people. You like immersive theaters. A great way to look at colonialism.
Don't see it if You don't want to think about colonialism and its results. Can be slow sometimes, and plots don't connect well at times.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies