Review: Yasmina’s Necklace (Goodman Theatre)

| November 3, 2017

Susaan Jamshidi stars as Yasmina in Yasmina's Necklace at Goodman Theatre            


Yasmina’s Necklace

Written by Rohina Malik 
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru Nov 19  |  tix: $10-$40  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Quiet, compelling and ultimately unforgettable


Michael Perez, Laura Crotte,  Amro Salama, Allen Gilmore, Rom Barkhordar and Susaan Jamshidi

Goodman Theatre presents
Yasmina’s Necklace

Review by Lauren Whalen

Playwright Rohina Malik, a Montessori teacher and Skokie resident, has flourished under Goodman Theatre’s guidance and her own persistence. Determined to write stories of Muslims that defy damaging stereotypes, she now sees her plays premiering in two major cities. The Mecca Tales opened at Manhattan’s Voyage Theatre Company on October 20, the same day as Yasmina’s Necklace at the Goodman. Yasmina’s Necklace is very Muslim in its theme, but also very American – unique yet universal. Thoughtfully directed by Ann Filmer, and featuring a gifted ensemble, the Chicago premiere of Malik’s romantic drama is deep, rich and emotionally rewarding.

Michael Perez and Laura Crotte star as Sam and Sara in Yasmina's Necklace, Goodman TheatreYasmina’s Necklace follows two Muslim families living in Chicago. They’re very different, but have one common problem: their romantically-challenged adult offspring. Sam (Michael Perez) is a financial analyst, part Arab and part Latino, who’s shucked his given name to get ahead in the corporate world, and whose divorce from an American woman is a thorn in his parents’ side. Yasmina (Susaan Jamshidi) escaped the atrocities in Iraq with her father Musa (Rom Barkhordar), and still harbors a deep love for her country. To cope with her awful memories, Yasmina dives into painting and hopes to start a nonprofit to assist refugees in the city. When Imam Kareem (Allen Gilmore) arranges a meeting of the two families in the hopes of a match, parties on both sides resist – but the challenges really start when Yasmina and Sam begin to fall in love.

Malik’s script is both simple and lovely, yet relishes its complexities. Each character has dealt with prejudice both out of the community and inside it: regarding the latter, Imam Kareem has faced challenges of leading a mosque as a black man, and Sam’s mother Sara (Laura Crotte) balks at the idea of her son marrying a refugee. Malik beautifully explores the various inner and outer conflicts each of the characters face: as Muslims, as American citizens and refugees, and as human beings who just want to be happy. At the heart of Yasmina’s Necklace is a love story, the most universal of all, with two reluctant protagonists who nonetheless are drawn to one another. The characters are relatable to every audience member, even when their struggles are unimaginable to most of us.

Laura Crotte, Amro Salama and Michael Perez star in Yasmina's Necklace, Goodman Theatre Susaan Jamshidi stars as Yasmina in Yasmina's Necklace at Goodman Theatre Michael Perez and Amro Salama star as Sam and Ali in Yasmina's Necklace, Goodman TheatreSusaan Jamshidi and Michael Perez star as Yasmina and Sam in Yasmina's Necklace at Goodman

Yasmina’s Necklace premiered last year at Berwyn’s 16th Street Theater, and several cast members remain the same, most notably Jamshidi and Perez, who reprise their lead roles. Though they barely touch and never kiss, their chemistry is palpable, their characters’ friendship and mutual respect organic and true. Barkhordar shines as Yasmina’s overbearing dad, and Martin Hanna is a standout as Amir, a man from Yasmina’s past in Iraq. Crotte’s Sara brings both comic relief and dramatic weight, fussing over her son and revealing her own spiritual journey and her insistence on keeping her Puerto Rican roots alive.

Director Filmer (who, like Malik, is an alum of Goodman Theatre’s programs for up-and-coming playwrights and directors) knows just when to inject humor, when to keep the action moving and when to slow down and let the audience savor a moment. As a result of Fisher’s attention to detail, Malik’s beautiful writing and a stellar cast, Yasmina’s Necklace is quiet but compelling, and ultimately unforgettable.


Rating: ★★★½

Yasmina’s Necklace continues through November 19th at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map), with performances Wednesdays & Thursdays 7:30pm, Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 2pm & 8pm, Sundays 2pm.  Tickets are $10-$40, and are available by phone (312-443-3800) or through their website (check for availability of half-price tickets). More info at time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)

Susaan Jamshidi, Michael Perez and Frank Sawa star in Yasmina's Necklace, Goodman Theatre

Photos by Liz Lauren 




Salar Ardebili (Man), Rom Barkhordar (Musa), Laura Crotte (Sara), Allen Gilmore (Imam Kareem), Martin Hanna (Amir), Susaan Jamshidi (Yasmina), Michael Perez (Sam), Amro Salama (Ali), Frank Sawa (Officer)

Understudies: Salar Ardebili (Amir), Joe Fernandez (Sam), Arti Ishak (Yasmina), Kenneth D. Johnson (Imam Kareem), Isabel Quintero (Sara), Amro Salama (Man, Officer), Frank Sawa (Ali, Musa)

behind the scenes

Ann Filmer (director), Joe Schermoly (set design), Rachel M. Sypniewski (costume design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Barry Bennett (original music, sound design), Adam Belcuore, Erica Sartini-Combs (casting), Dana Lynn Formby (dramaturg), Donald E. Claxon (production stage manager), Malcolm Callan (assistant director), Ahmad Abdulrazzaq (paintings and calligraphy), Rachel Lake (assistant lighting designer), Eva Breneman (dialect coach), Kathy Logelin (assistant dialect coach), Liz Lauren (photos)

Susaan Jamshidi stars as Yasmina in Yasmina's Necklace, Goodman Theatre


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Category: 2017 Reviews, Goodman Theatre, Lauren Whalen

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