9 Parts of Desire
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.