Finding America

Me and Tarah

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Ms. Denmo Ibrahim was highly convincing as the plump,
40-something Egyptian Mohammed 
Continuing my round-up of the "by invitation" shows at this year's DivaFest, the next play up for review was Funny, A Trunk Show—the story of an Egyptian man and his torrid struggle to renew his passport with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Following the utterly gripping Commencement, Funny, A Trunk Show had a virtually unattainable standard to live up to, but given this author's own encounters with U.S. immigration services, I was intrigued to see where Denmo Ibrahim—star and creator of the show —would take her (yes, HER!) character and, more importantly, the story itself.

Standing in line, with suitcase in hand, Mohammed Hosni (or "Mo" to his friends) sets the scene immediately with what would essentially remain a 45-minute monologue—treating the audience to some well-timed humor ("they might at least put in a fan"). But as the opening fifteen minutes play out, not even the highly convincing performance of a fat-suited and mustachioed Ibrahim can disguise the lacklustre directing, an issue that was duly outlined by the lack of pacing during the initial moments of Mo's journey.

This aside, however, the play did offer some finely crafted audience interaction. Indeed, it was only once the play veered away from its attempts to be laugh-out-loud funny that it finally began to excel. As we come to discover more of Mo's familial history and the struggles he has had to endure on his way to gaining citizenship, we develop a sense of compassion for the character, whose satirical, almost sarcastic quips against government bureaucracy ring true.

Despite a somewhat muddled ending, Funny, A Trunk Show was an enjoyable start to what is set to become a trilogy of plays (created by A Denmo Project), while props must go to Ms. Ibrahim, whose stylish and authentic performance was enough to make the audience forget that the plump, 40-something Mohammed was in fact a slim-build actress in her early 30s.

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