There is a hunger for stories about women who find their power, and rare to find one that also follows an unexpected path. One such surprising and welcome piece, Power Strip, is currently playing at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow. Set in a refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece in the Spring of 2016, it follows the story of Syrian refugee Yasmin. Through playwright Sylvia Khoury’s beautifully crafted script, we witness how this young woman came to be in such a harsh environment and learn her plans for the future. So clever is this work that even the title takes on multiple meanings.
Khoury’s storytelling is rich in detail despite the show’s tightly clipped runtime. She doesn’t give her plot a twist so much as perform narrative slight of hand. Everything is in front of you, but revealed so slowly and with subtle distraction that you only see the full picture at the end. Khoury also takes the step of placing tiny lights along the cultural awareness path to lead the way for those without much knowledge about the lives of Middle Eastern women. War forms an essential part of the backdrop, but the politics remains bubbling under the surface. Khoury’s language is blended with Matt Hubbs’ humming soundscape which further communicates commotion, fear, and conflict. It’s a powerful experience made even better by director Tyne Rafaeli’s masterful staging and pacing.
Dina Shihabi is on stage for the entire 90 minutes, her lithe body flowing between taut and fluid as Yasmin’s story unfolds. The skillful actress stuffs emotions into a tiny space with the same efficiency as Yasmin hastily packs her carrier bag with essentials. The shallowness of the venue allows the entire audience to almost see her mind at work as she evaluates her shifting circumstances. Arnulfo Maldonado’s bleak set and Jen Schriever’s muted light work to put further focus on the tiniest of her reactions.
The men around Yasmin each have an influence on the trajectory of her life. So, too, do the three actors who embody them impact what the actress brings forth. The dominance and assuredness of Ali Lopez-Sohaili as her fiancé Peter, the protective sweetness of Darius Homayoun’s fellow refugee Khaled and the vulnerability of Peter Ganim’s widower Abdullah each bring out a different quality in her performance.
Just like a series of sockets, Power Strip provides us with a deep connection to the astonishing things that can keep someone going. This effective drama is sure to linger with you, bringing with it a unique combination of grief and hope. It runs through November 17 at the Claire Tow Theater in Lincoln Center (150 West 65th Street). Curtain time is 7PM, with 2PM matinees on weekends. All seats are an economical $30 and available through Telecharge at https://www.telecharge.com/Off-Broadway/Power-Strip.
Tagged: Ali Lopez-Sohaili, Arnulfo Maldonado, Cathy Hammer, Claire Tow, Darius Homayoun, Dina Shihabi, Jen Schriever, Lincoln Center Theater, Matt Hubbs, Peter Ganim, Power Strip, Sylvia Khoury, Tyne Rafaeli