(Ben Brantley's review appeared in The New York Times, September 16.) 

Exiles With Harrowing Tales From the Chaos of War-Torn Iraq

The snapshots are thrust at us urgently, as if they were passports being shown at a border crossing, official proofs of national identity. Mostly, they are prosaic pictures of family members or houses. Sometimes a diploma will be offered up instead, or theater reviews clipped from newspapers or a membership card to a duck-hunting club. Later, other, more frightening, pictures will be shown, but they all serve the same function.

For the men and women assembled in “Aftermath,” the smart and sobering documentary drama that opened on Tuesday night at the New York Theater Workshop, these flimsy objects have more than sentimental value. They are confirmations that all of the characters onstage are citizens of a country called Iraq, a place that they haven’t visited recently, but one that they love and that still exists. Or does it?

Assembled by its creators, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, from interviews with Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, “Aftermath” might be said to be set in limbo. Its performers, first seen sitting rigid on benches with their backs to us, seem to exist in an eternal waiting room.


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