Mosaic’s newest show, Draw the Circle, is intimate, raw, honest and uncomfortable. The discomfort is not a negative: As a matter of fact, it is the perfect note to strike in these intense, crazy times.
How does it feel: being uncomfortable in your own skin? Knowing that, deep inside, you are not the person everyone believes you should be? This is the journey through which playwright and actor Mashuq Mushtaq Deen leads us in Draw the Circle, Mosaic Theater’s latest offering. Using the voices of family, friends, acquaintances and the love of his life, Deen, a gifted writer and performer, takes us through the pain, confusion and mundane joys of finding himself and finally “looking like there was nothing missing.” This thought, uttered by Molly –Deen’s partner– is the guiding light through this production. Deen’s gift for bringing his family to life has great comedic timing but is also gentle: The people who tell us the story of the little girl who became the man in front of us are not caricatures. They are thoughtful sketches of people the artist knows well –and who know him best. My favorite characterization was that of his niece, Rabia, whose honesty acted as a foil for the little girl Deen once was. One little girl knows she’s a girl and that’s that; the other little girl always knew she was not, and the road to acceptance and emancipation is long and painful.
Although there were a few artistic choices that made connecting with the one-man show challenging at times – blocking that prevented anyone beyond the first few rows from seeing the actor, an abrupt sound cue that broke a special moment at the end– these are minor quibbles. The show is powerful and comes from a deep place of analysis and reckoning. The fact that the person portraying all these different voices is the same person we learn about –that their pain is his pain– only adds a layer of emotional punch to a hard-hitting show.
If you go:
WHAT: Draw the Circle, written and performed by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen and directed by Chaw Yew.
WHERE: Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lab II Theater. Tickets: http://www.atlasarts.org/events/category/mosaic-theater/
WHEN: December 1-24, 2017
WHY: Because in the season of love and grace, this story brings both elements in a new light.