CIRCLES OF LOVE, by Al-Noor Peera, directed by Layne Coleman, with Vijay Mehta, Ishwar Mooljee, Goldy Notay, Anand Rajaram and Mishu Vellani. Presented by Ego Productions and Theatre Passe Muraille in the Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to June 18, Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday matinee 2:30 pm. $20, stu/srs $15, Sunday pwyc. 504-7529. Rating: NN
Time bites its own tail in Circles Of Love, the drama of a troubled immigrant South Asian family. And while it's crucial that young playwrights like Al-Noor Peera tell their stories to a wide audience, the script and its jagged structure leave so many questions that the narrative never emerges as more than a series of scenes.
The central figure is the westernized Jamil Kuchra (Vijay Mehta), who tries to deal with yet also helps feed family tensions involving his tradition-bound father and mother (Ishwar Mooljee and Mishu Vellani). Jamil's girlfriend Zuhra (Goldy Notay), his gay friend Rafiq (Anand Rajaram) and Jamil make up another triangle, this one with its share of sexual stress.
The actors are clearly devoted to the material, and director Layne Coleman highlights the drama of individual scenes while underlining parallels of imagery and situation. Though his lines are sometimes trite and he deals with too many topics, Peera makes strong use of choral and other non-naturalistic devices. His most developed figure is Zuhra, who loves Jamil but wants to be more than his stay-at-home bride, and Notay gives her a sensual and emotional depth.
But the mysteries raised by the time-shifting story are too nebulous and unsatisfyingly answered. Quizzical audience looks at the end suggest that the hide-and-seek structure has confused rather than elucidated the tale's issues.