Mahmoud Travels Emotional Path

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Tara Grammy in “Mahmoud” at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.

Tara Grammy in “Mahmoud” at the
Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks.

An emotionally intense, heartfelt production, Mahmoud blends excellent acting by the talented Tara Grammy and a well-developed story to reveal the rocky journeys of three disparate characters in Toronto, Canada. Hilarious, touching, and involving, the story examines cultural and religious tensions over what it means to be Iranian in a modern, cosmopolitan city.

Inspired by a meeting with an Iranian immigrant taxi driver, Grammy developed a series of sketches intertwining three characters, taxi driver Mahmoud, pre-teen Tara, and a gay Spanish cologne salesman into a one-woman show. The presentation grows from superficial character moments into a telling story of well-rounded individuals, all dealing with racism, sexism, and sexual preference. The characters wrestle with cultural identity and connection while attempting to fit in with family and friends.

Grammy gives a riveting performance delineating three very different but colorful characters. Her expressive face, emotional body language, and vivid vocal impressions give forceful life to these people. She brings a sweet vulnerability to the ambitious, talkative tween, charismatic flamboyance to the gay Spanish man, and painful resignation to the friendly yet emotionally conflicted Mahmoud.

Director Tom Arthur Davis draws excellent timing and energy from Grammy and the crew, successfully weaving together the interconnected stories, and building to a powerful conclusion. Mike Conley’s fine sound design gives rich texture to proceedings, and lighting enhances the tonal shifts.

Irreverent yet emotionally honest, Mahmoud examines the difficult road people must travel to find their true homes.

Mahmoud plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. through June 29 at the Whitefire Theatre located at 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. Tickets cost $30, and can be purchased at mahmoudtaxi.com or at the door. Valet parking is available across the street at Boneyard Bistro, 13539 Ventura Blvd., for $4.50.

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