There's the titular Mahmoud, a Hafez-obsessed Iranian engineer-turned-taxi driver who fled his home country for the safety of Canada 25 years ago; Emanuelos, a gay Spanish cologne salesman engaged to be married to his Iranian boyfriend; and Tara, a 12-year-old Iranian-Canadian girl (presumably a younger version of the actress herself) who wants to be a blonde, body hair-free actress (she laments, "Iranian girls don't become actresses; they become doctors…really hairy doctors"). Their paths cross in unexpected and often very funny ways.
While her manic delivery occasionally obscures the text (this is particularly true for Emanuelos), Grammy offers a solid performance throughout and her characters, while heightened, are also utterly believable. Indeed, Mahmoud may appear habitually cheerful, but people who present such a façade are often compensating for some deeply painful wounds and Mahmoud is no exception.
Grammy and co-author and director Tom Arthur Davis have set the play during the 2009 Iranian presidential elections, now most remembered for the liberal "Green Movement" that took to the streets to protest the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While significantly raising the stakes, this choice also cracks open one of the central questions of the immigrant experience: why give up the familiarity of one's home country for a strange land in which your professional skills and qualifications are completely ignored?
Presented by Pandemic Theatre, this look into the dynamics of the Iranian Diaspora in Toronto is an infinitely worthwhile evening of theater for people who want to know more about Iran -- and considering its ubiquity on the world stage, that should be everyone -- and the people who choose to leave it.
-- Zachary Stewart