Early in the staging, Ullah is depicted as a rising stand-up comedian trying to make it big in Hollywood. As he attempts to be featured in a blockbuster movie, he starts thinking about his Bengali Muslim father, Habib, and his journey immigrating to America.
Ullah commands the stage during the 90-minute run time at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. From jokes to Bollywood and Hollywood movies to baseball players, he has a down to earth and hilarious presence that makes him instantly engaging.
Ullah’s script touches on many issues ranging from family to racism. He finds just the right balance between comedy and drama throughout the play.
Composer and tabla percussionist, Avirodh Sharma, provides live music in each scene. His musicianship is on full display in a memorable preshow, and he contributes heavily to calming and contemplative sequences.
Guiding the strong work from Ullah and Sharma is director, Chay Yew. His storytelling allows audiences to be immersed by Ullah’s words and Sharma’s music. Credit should also go to lighting designer, Anshuman Bhatia, who finds specific moments to visually enhance Ullah’s tale.The only part of Ullah’s narrative that could have been fleshed out was incorporating Habib’s presence towards the conclusion. While Habib is largely the focus for the majority of the runtime, the evening puts an emphasis on Ullah’s adulthood for the climax and conclusion.
Although certain audience members may feel that there is enough dialogue referencing Habib towards the end, I felt a little bit more could have been included, since he is such an important part of the evening.
Regardless of my thoughts about the final section, Ullah is able to successfully dramatize situations that are distinctive and universal. The storyteller’s relationships with his family will hit home for a lot of theatregoers, and his prose always feel truthful and honest.
Ullah has crafted an immigration dramedy that is authentic and full of warmth. In the future, I hope the talented and multifaceted performer continues to return to the Balboa Park theatre with other one-man shows.
[box] Show times are Thursdays at 8:00 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Tuesdays at 7:00 pm and Wednesdays at 7:00 pm. [/box]