[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Ritual Music to Cure a Lover” written, directed and performed by Shahin Sayadi at the Whitmore Lindley Theatre, running through June 11.
Shahin Sayadi is a gifted storyteller. “Ritual Music to Cure a Lover” is a story about love and pain and our innate human yearning to move away from the lives of our forefathers and to make something uniquely our own.
Some may say this has become a very real imperative given the havoc wrecked by the choices of previous generations. This story is set in a fishing village on the coast of Iran, a place unmoved by time. A young boy yearns for his father’s love, but his father still mourns the loss of his beloved wife in childbirth. Although he has cared for the boy and helped him to grow into the man he now is, he found it almost impossible to show him love. The father considers the son to have been the murderer of his wife. The boy grows strong and learns the ancient trade of diving for pearls. Diving further and deeper than anyone to prove himself and win his father’s love, nearly drowning in the process. One day he falls in love with a woman, a stranger who comes to the village already pregnant and intent on making a life for herself there. And so the battle between tradition and modern life is set in motion. A woman alone and pregnant taking charge of her own future and a son fighting his father’s hatred of his past.
All these characters are performed with riveting skill and the powerful depth of emotion of an incredibly gifted artist. Sayadi uses the bare minimum. A chair, some sand and a headscarf to transform from father to son, from mother to lover and then village elder, all with astonishing effectiveness.
The audience is utterly transfixed by his performance and I found myself transported to the hot desert of Iran and the deep blue sea and even to the terrible turmoil of life in modern-day Iran.
It’s an exquisite play. Made all the more beautiful by the performance of Shahin Sayadi. The parallels between the father-son relationship and the aching for change among the younger generation of Iran is extraordinary. To tell this important story using ancient mythological figures and make it new and relevant and searingly real is such a clever way to illustrate what’s happening right now in the streets of Tehran and indeed everywhere in Iran.
Shahin follows every performance with a talkback, encouraging the audience to ask questions and give him feedback on his years-long journey to produce this play and bring it to the world.
In fact, this is Shahin’s first production in the US. He is based in Canada and took to theatre later in life. But I can tell you the theatre is his natural state and as long as it took him to create this play it was well worth it. I am so thrilled that NoHo can host such an artist and help him share this message. Iran is not the only place in the world that stands on the precipice of the future. The whole world needs to take note. This generation has its capable eye on democracy. Let us hope they can live up to all that is needed. I for one have hope.
“Ritual Music to Cure a Lover” runs through June 11 at the Whitmore Lindley. I highly recommend this wonderful play. Let us support Shahin Sayadi and his quest to share this story.
Whitmore Lindley Theatre
11006 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
Through June 11. Friday and Saturday at 8:30 pm and Sunday at 3pm