nytheatre.com review by Kimberly I. Kefgen
Rumi’s Math is a dream
play, inspired by the 11th century poet and Islamic philosopher, Mevlana
Jelaluddin Rumi, and his friendship with Shams, an Iranian outcast. Rumi
and Shams reportedly were inseparable friends until one day, Shams was
called to the back door and was never heard from again. Through a
combination of poetry (Rumi’s, I assume), dance, song, and video,
Rumi’s Math explores the search for and the loss of an intense
friendship in which two people "are of two bodies and one soul".
Performed nicely by an all female cast (Jessica Marie Smith, Sinem
Balkir, Nina Waluschka, Cathy Richards, Mercedes Vazquez, �zlem Topez
and Gulcin Hatihan), and beautifully staged by Handan Ozbilgin,
Rumi’s Math is a high concept performance piece that never feels
pretentious or insincere.
August 15, 2003
At its strongest, the piece is a wash of images and poetry that make sense in the surreal way a dream makes sense until you think about it. The problem is that Ozbilgin (who also wrote the piece) thought about it. A narrative is imposed with unlikely and unmotivated lines of exposition that ultimately do more to confuse than clarify. The old adage to show rather than tell could have been heeded here. In fact, the company does an admirable job of creating for us their weird and haunting world; I just wish they would resist explaining it to us.
Overall, there are many beautiful moments throughout Rumi’s Math. The performers are strong and committed; the material is unique; the poetry is fascinating. It was obvious from the program and the curtain call that this was a labor of love, and the passion that was brought to the project was reflected in its performance.