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Working in the chameleonic vein of Sarah Jones, the Iranian-Canadian Tara Grammy delivers a knockout solo. Mahmoud
follows the intertwining lives of three disparate characters in Toronto as protests rage in Iran during the 2009 presidential election. It’s easy to see why the show earned awards and acclaim at the Toronto Fringe Festival last month. A remarkably versatile performer, Grammy is equally convincing as a chatty male Iranian taxi driver; a flaming Spanish cologne salesman; and an insecure ethnic tween who grows up to become an actor (the latter clearly autobiographical). Although all three are outrageously broad at the start, Grammy and her cowriter-director, Tom Arthur Davis, slowly upend these seeming stereotypes. Initially there’s a lot of humor, but the play grows more dramatic as the stories unfold. Racism, homophobia, immigration, homesickness and cultural identity are sensitively explored, especially during the characters’ brief but heated interactions. But even though Mahmoud
has serious undertones, it never devolves into a lecture. This is a piece about people, not politics. (Visit the FringeNYC Encore Series website
for more information.)—Raven Snook