“Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World” at ACT

The “new world” of the title is the one we all encounter with some regularity, all of us, even those who aren’t immigrants in a strange country. In this lively though somewhat preachy comedy, having its world premier at ACT Theatre, Musa, a New York cabbie from Egypt, hooks up with Sheri, a sassy American waitress whose free wheeling lifestyle amazes and delights him.

Of course they sleep together; of course they fall in love, but Musa never gets around to telling her that he’s engaged to Gamila, a Muslim woman who’s planning their wedding. She’s the antithesis of Sheri—elegant and controlled where Sheri is brash and insecure. The women meet under remarkably inappropriate circumstances, and Musa has some explaining and decision making ahead of him.

Five characters, and all are good actors, but the three leads are superb. Shanga Parker as Musa, Carol Roscoe as Sheri, and Kimberley Sustad as Gamila give their characters just the right nuance and flavor. You can’t help rooting for all of them.

The writing is overall sharp and funny. The issues the play raises within what is essentially a lighthearted romantic comedy are powerful and pertinent. They give new insights to the challenges that immigrants who cross any borders face in their daily and ongoing lives.

Unfortunately, the playwright felt it necessary to reinforce these ideas with the appearances and dissertations of a ghostly philosopher. He should have let the play speak for itself. It doesn’t need  exegesis.

Through July 17 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org)


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