be attended. Millions of Americanswill do the same.

This is thefirst Christmas this family will spend as American citizens. Eight yearsafter fleeing Iraq, Noura (Denmo Ibrahim), Tareq (Mattico David) and their sonYazen (Valentino Herrera) have gained naturalized citizenship as evidenced bythe arrival of their new passports. The Americanized names on the passports (Nora,Tim, and Alex) are a sticking point for Noura, though. She feels as if herpast, and more so her identity are being erased.

It’s thefirst of many conflicts explored in Heather Raffo’s Noura, aco-production of the Marin Theatre Company and San Francisco’s Golden ThreadProductions. It runs in Mill Valley through February 9.

One of theguests expected at Noura and Tareq’s home is Maryam (Maya Nazzal), a fellowrefugee and college student they have been sponsoring but have never met. Her condition upon arrival sets up anotherconflict though, curiously, her future employment in weapons development doesnot and barely registers with the folks who fled the bombardment of theirhomes.

Rafa’a, achildhood friend of Noura’s (Abraham Makany), will also attend and yes, he willbe the source of conflict as well. Then again, when is a scripted Christmasdinner anything but an opportunity for secrets to be revealed andconflicts to come to a head?

DenmoIbrahim is terrific in the title role and never more so than in the show’squietest moments. She communicates as much with her visage as she does with thescript. Mattico David, who’s played the role of Tareq off-Broadway, is alsoexcellent as Noura’s husband who, despite his protestations, has not left quiteeverything from the old country behind. There’s good supporting work fromNazzal and Makany.

PlaywrightRaffo packs a lot into her 90-minute examination of a woman on the edge.Noura’s issue of the loss of her identity through assimilation runs deeps butthere’s a lot more going on with her. Past decisions have come back to haunther, and her desire to make everything right may have the opposite effect.We’ll never know as the Kate Bergstrom-directed play concludes on an ambiguousnote after a drawn-out ending.

While a bitoverstuffed (believe me, there’s a lot more going on than I’veindicated), Noura is an interesting take on the modern émigré experience.

‘Noura’ runsthrough February 9 at the Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley. Tuesday throughSaturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; there are Saturday and Sundaymatiness at 2pm.

For moreinformation, go to

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

Subscribe: Android | RSS

Second Row Center

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.