Faceless

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By Selina Fillinger.

Directed by BJ Jones.

At Northlight Theatre, Skokie.

Court room drama about terrorism in America is presented in a balanced manner.

Selina Fillinger, recent Northwestern University graduate, has penned a potent courtroom drama, Faceless, now at Northlight Theatre in Skokie. This is a engaging 85 minute thriller that deals with an 18 year old woman who is radicalized via the Internet to become a follower of ISIS. She is influenced by the terrorist website and her interaction with a man who  appeals  to her vulnerability as a young, idealistic girl who has recently lost her mother. After planning to travel to Iraq vi Turkey to join ISIS and to marry her contact, she is arrested by the FBI. Susan Glen (Lindsay Stock) is facing 20 years in federal prison.

The Justice Department’s chief prosecutor, Scott Bader (Timothy Edward Kane), a hard-liner on terrorism is determined to make Susie an example of  a white female being brainwashed by ISIS via the Internet. Punishing her would be a vivid example to those lonely teens who are seeking purpose to avoid. Bader wants to win, therefore he enlists a new lawyer, female Harvard Graduate, headscarf wearing Muslim. to argue the  case against Susie. While Susaan Jamshidt (Claire Fathl) argues with Bader, she also wants to show that she is a first-rate attorney and a loyal American so she agrees to argue the government’s case.

Susie’s defense lawyer, Mark Arenberg (Ross Lehman), is a Jewish ‘pit-bull’ defense attorney. He fights with Susie about how he is going to defend her as he makes her realize that she is facing 20 years in federal prison. Susie’s father Alan (Joe Dempsey) tries to get her to listen and cooperate with Mark. Alan feels guilty for not being around after the mother (and his wife) is killed in the line of duty as a cop.

As this fact-paced 85 minute courtroom drama plays out, we witness the parallel  these two young woman as they are, in fact, fighting a similar  battle to defend their morals, motives and religious freedoms. Playwright Selina Fillinger skillfully presents both side of the argument: should we aggressively prosecute Americans who try to aid terrorist or  only after they actually materially and personally commit acts to aid ISIS?

We also see how religious dress and rituals can affect societies perception of Muslims.. This is a riveting and superbly acted drama.  Susaan Jamshich and Lindsay Stock anchor the play with their wrenching performances. Their anger, fear, and dismay fuels the drama. Faceless is powerful as it leaves audiences thinking about how America should handle Online requiting of vulnerable young Americans?  In our age  of Trump, we must keep from being too harsh on “want-to-be” terrorists. This is a worthy presentation of that problem,.

Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Jeff Recommended.

At Northlight Theatre, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd., Skokie, IL, call 847-673-6300, www.northlight.org, tickets 430 – $81, Wednesdays at 1 & 7:30 pm, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2;30 & 7 pm, running time is 85 minutes without intermission, through March 4,2017.