| Chicago Reader

Game of Patience 

Yugen Theatre, at Zebra Crossing Theatre.

Kaokab emigrated from her native Lebanon, changed her name, and now enjoys a successful writing career--all of which makes her feel very guilty. Her cousin Mariam, recently emigrated, exacerbates this guilt: she's grieving and angry over the death of her teenage daughter at the hands of enemy artillery.

Abla Farhoud's Game of Patience is not a play so much as a dialogue within the author's mind, and as a result the exposition is rather fuzzy. With no real-world narrator to ground us, we have no way of verifying information: when the ghost of the dead daughter declares, "Aunt Kaokab...really needs my mother," is this fact or opinion? And when Kaokab springs her big revelation, is she finally exposing the truth, or is it a stratagem to free Mariam from her sorrow?

Yugen Theatre director Lynn Ann Bernatowicz seeks to orient us with slide projections, music, dance, and occasional kinetic outbursts from the actors, but any assistance is nullified by their tendency to play attitude rather than text. Pamela Feldman's Mariam and Jane deLaubenfels's Kaokab seem more mother and daughter than women of equal age (particularly since Mariam is stolid and judgmental and Kaokab is either pleading or in a kind of anguished trance), and Michele DiMaso does her cute 'n' perky turn again in the role of the adolescent martyr. Besides, the issues Farhoud raises are common to immigrant families of all nationalities. This version, however sincerely intended, will be a matter of interest only to those already familiar with the situation.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David A. Weinstein.

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