“intense, absorbing, and thought-provoking.”– John Del Signore, The New York Times
The play was billed as an “incendiary and haunting triptych of monologues that intimately explores the experiences of three key figures of the Middle East crisis: Lynndie England (Teri Lamm), the U.S. soldier who was convicted of abusing detainees at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison; David Kelly (Rocco Sisto), the British weapons inspector who allegedly committed suicide after being involved in a government scandal and Nehrjas Al Saffarh (Heather Raffo), a member of the Communist Party of Iraq who suffered under Saddam Hussein’s regime and died when the Americans bombed her home during the initial Gulf War.”
“The last and longest piece is both the best and the one that completely jumps the tracks. The astonishing Heather Raffo (“9 Parts of Desire”) plays Nehrjas, an Iraqi woman who suffered intense torture at the hands of the Baathists in the 1960s. Finally, she commands our full attention. Raffo gives such an intense, nuanced performance in the role that it’s impossible to remember the other stories until she’s finished — which is a good thing, since Nehrjas’ sad story is about Iraq, but otherwise unrelated.
Beyond that, though, Raffo is completely charming — something we haven’t seen yet in the play. She describes herself as “an arborist,” and then turns, self-consciously, to the audience.
“Is that the right word?” she asks anxiously. Nobody corrects her. She smiles. “Good for me.”
Good for her indeed. If “Palace of the End” was nothing but this third section, it would be an excellent play with a lot to say about an underexplored period in history…
…a triumphant finale.“ -Sam Thielman, Variety
The Cycle of Life, Damaged by the Horror of War
Three scalding monologues make up Judith Thompson’s “Palace of the End” at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, and three pitch-perfect performers deliver them. Which, a couple of years ago, would have made for courageous, electrifying theater, since Ms. Thompson’s subject is the travesties associated with the war in Iraq. full article
One hesitates to call the Canadian playwright Judith Thompson’s “Palace of the End” (an Epic Theatre Ensemble production, at Playwrights Horizons) a lyrical work, given its subject. Political pundits might be alienated by the idea of a hard-news story like the devastation in Iraq being treated in a poetic, “feminine” manner. But such is the power of Thompson’s real, if uneven, talent that even the chest-thumping newshounds who see the show may find themselves recalling that the earliest reports of man’s inhumanity to man took the form of poems, recited beside a crashing sea. full article