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Michael Barnes

A rare night at the theater

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It had been ages since I attended an Austin Playhouse play.

disgraced-8Ayad Akhtar‘s “Disgraced,” which explores what it means to be Muslim and American in the 21st-century, proved a good second excuse — along with the Austin History Center Association‘s Angelina Eberly Luncheon — for breaking early from our beach vacation.

It starts as a polite party. It ends in emotional and intellectual devastation.

One can find direct precedents in Yasmina Reza‘s “Art,” Mart Crowley‘s “The Boys in the Band” and T.S. Eliot‘s “The Cocktail Party.”

Family-style versions of the dramatized social patterns include Tracy Letts‘ “August: Osage County,” James Goldman‘s “The Lion in Winter” and several scripts by Terrence McNallyLanford Wilson, Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill.

Here, the ebb and flow of power and ideas is managed by director Don Toner. As a longtime — now distant — observer of the scene, I was particularly gratified to see the latest chapters in the evolution of J. Ben Wolfe and Michael Miller‘s acting careers. Somewhat new to me was the spot-on Molly Karrasch. In smaller roles, Harold Fisch and Crystal Bird Caviel lent the cast needed contrasting voices.

Alas, it ends today. See Andrew J. Friedenthal‘s alert review for the Statesman here.