A play about Iraqi artifacts suffers from too much artifice.
On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, a Mosul museum curator arrives in a London hotel with his shy new bride. She believes it’s a honeymoon trip, but he has no intention of returning; as he nervously awaits a telephone call, we see through a series of flashbacks how his efforts to save an ancient statue of the titular Mesopotamian goddess from imminent looting and destruction led them to this point.
Michele Lowe’s 2009 play is sadly all too timely, given the images of the Islamic State destroying artifacts and demolishing religious sites after overtaking Mosul last year. And Inana makes an admirable effort to imagine what life was like for Iraqi citizens, particularly the scholarly classes, under the rule of Saddam Hussein.
Yet despite some poetic imagery in Lowe’s script and committed performances by Kimberly Senior’s cast, none of the characters in the piece feel quite true; they all seem to speak in the author’s voice, with actions in service of the desired metaphors rather than plausibility. An alumna of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Lowe has written a play that’s highly researched but dramatically inert, making for an experience something like watching a public radio program.
TimeLine Theatre Company. By Michele Lowe. Directed by Kimberly Senior. With Demetrios Troy, Atra Asdou. Running time: 1hr 30mins; no intermission.