nytheatre.com review by David Reinwald
August 15, 2004
Alter Ego Productions presents the world premiere of Fatwa, a satire in which two attention-seeking friends learn that it is not an easy task to try and acquire a fatwa, the ultimate Islamic death edict. The premise surrounds a competitive friendship between two not-so-famous authors, Michael Jordan (Joe Jamrog) and Mohammed Ali (Jerry Matz), whose recognizable names have so far brought them little of the acclaim they've been seeking.
As authors, both Michael and Mohammed have written similar works, with Michael’s being more outrageously blasphemous in its content than Mohammed’s poetic output. Michael desires fame and hopes to earn it through a decree of fatwa. The plot ensues when Michael causes Mohammed to believe that a fatwa has been set for Michael’s death. The two then advance into a scheme to fake Michael’s death, in the hopes that as a result, the public would come to see the fatwa as reality, and the sales of Michael's book would soar above the total of eighty copies.
Explosive in its irony, Fatwa is written with impeccable wit by Anuvab Pal. The dialogue is entertaining and engaging. And it is a treat to see two veteran and seasoned actors like Jamrog and Matz take the stage at Fringe NYC. What I felt was missing from the play, though, was drawn out when it was revealed that Michael had caused an accident which killed Mohammed’s wife. Suddenly, there was a back-story to this story that received no emotional attention. I believe it would be not only insightful to learn how this traumatic incident has impacted the two friends, but also essential to the nature of the plot.
Without revealing the end, I will just say that the closing moments of the show lose the gained intensity that was built up in earlier parts. Thus, the end becomes quite predictable, and once again, the closing scene lacks the emotional depth it needs. The author would do well to shorten some of the sections that seem to ramble on toward the end and replace them with a fuller picture of the aftermath of the situation.
Nevertheless, Fatwa is a show that should be seen for the unique wit of its writing and the cleverness of the story that it tells.