January 12, 2021
Promoted as a Persian food culinary lesson, Tara Ahmadinejad (Chef Vargis) faces the zoom camera and basically bungles the dish. Before the cooking even begins, she demonstrates one of the most important steps: rinsing rice. However, even that process is questioned by her menagerie of relatives and friends.
Affable in her dark shoulder-length hair and dark rimmed glasses, Ahmadinejad's real mission is to protest America's generated image of and antagonism towards Iranians.
Despite the political rhetoric in this infoganda work, Anna effortlessly devises a homey way of personalizing Iranians. Her sous-chef, the marvelously droll Hassan Nazari-Robati, stands (virtually) next to her expertly preparing food.
In a hilarious segment, he demonstrates the proper way to remove dill leaves from the stalk. This painstaking process takes him a day--but hey, who doesn't have a day to meticulously clean an herb.
The zoom audience--at least those who agree to keep their cameras turned-on are targets for inscription into the story about an extended family -- one American's might not recognize. Doctors and scholars, educators and artists...these are the people of Iran; not terrorists. Oh yes, despite the interrupted cooking lesson, the good folks at the Public Theater forward the full recipe for
Sabzi Polo as described by Ahmadinejad's mother on the phone.
DISCLAIMER, part of the 2021 Under the Radar Festival, is written by Tara Ahmadinejad, created by Piehole, and directed by Jeff Wood and Ms. Ahmadinejad
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis