9 Parts of Desire

Rated 4.0

Playwright Heather Raffo’s harrowing script looks at life in Iraq during the past 30 years—through tyranny and war—from the perspective of multiple Iraqi women. We meet a painter, a doctor, an impish girl, a peddler selling family heirlooms and a devastated mother who lost her child when American bombs fell. We also meet two exiles and others who stayed, including some who got uncomfortably close to Saddam and his sons.

As a writer, Raffo brings personal perspective to the task—her father is Iraqi, her mother American. Raffo originally performed this piece herself, as a solo show in Britain, New York and Los Angeles, winning several awards.

In this mounting, by Sacramento’s ever-adventuresome Beyond the Proscenium Productions, the play is staged as an ensemble piece without intermission, featuring five or six cast members (depending on which night you attend); almost all of the segments are monologues, frequently intense.

The names and faces onstage bespeak American diversity, but that doesn’t become a problem. Most segments manage to put you in the shoes of these Iraqi women, raised in a country with an ancient history, known at one time for literacy and medicine, now largely wrecked by mismanagement, military invasion and internal conflict. It’s a haunting, eye-opening evening.