REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams



By Jonas Hassen Khemirisilkroadrising

Translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

Directed by Anna C. Bahow

At the Chicago Temple Building

Intense excessive in the semantics of racial profiling unfolds with zest

Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Invasion! (translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles) is a mixture of theatre. performance art,  part agit-prop, and part polemic. It uses four players: Kamal Hans, Glenn Stanton, Amira Sabbagh and Omer Abbas Salem. They move from character sketches to the story of a fictitious terrorist to street thugs to middle class studs trying to pick up a girl in a club. All is done in 80 manic minutes of  sometime confusing mayhem designed to engage us as it delivers a biting satirical take on the nature of profiling and racial stereotypes.


Khemiri uses wordplay about the term Abulkasem. It means a beloved quirky Lebanese uncle to a term used as an adverb, noun, verb that has multiple meanings including a term for an Arab terrorist.  The clever wordplay here demonstrates how the semantics of Middle Eastern -Muslim  types can lead to us Westerners , particularly Americans to fear them.  The action here is torrid and, at times, a tad confusing but ultimately Invasion! delivers a theatrical treat. We see through humor and painful sketches how the world now see  Abulkasem-affected folks in the contemporary world after 911. The piece proves to be provocative, daring and insightful. The cast especially works hard delivering a large assortment of characters, styles, accents and persona.   The show ends with a loge monologue that demonstrates the pain of being a member of an ethnic group being held as suspicious.  Ultimately our fears of the Arab male comes through loud and clear.  This show is worthy of an audience.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: August 4, 2013

For more info checkout the Invasion! page at

At the Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington, Chicago, IL, call 312-857-1234,, tickets $35, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 pm & Sundays at 4pm, running time is 80 minutes without intermission, through September 1, 2013

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