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Arts & Entertainment

Best Play 

9 Parts of Desire

As always at the Unicorn, art and news got all bound up in each other this year. Good for them, but timeliness does not guarantee artistic effectiveness. When the art is as good as the politics, though, the resulting fission can make a good show great, as happened with Heather Raffo's 9 Parts of Desire. In this wrenching, hopeful collage of Iraqi women's lives, Raffo and director Cynthia Levin treated wartime life with pain, horror and humor, introducing theatergoers not just to absorbing stories but also to the grim complexities of an invasion that has, for too many Americans, become background noise. Strong performances from Cheryl Weaver, Jennifer Aguilar and Andi Meyer, together playing a host of women, brought the world home. Early on, when Weaver played a young girl who had learned to time the whistling descent of bombs dropped in air raids, it was impossible for audiences not to picture themselves or their children counting the seconds between thunder and lightning. In 9 Parts of Desire, we felt something of what it would be like to live in those seconds.

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