Icarus and Amina by Yasmine Rana is the second part of the Ryan Repertory Company’s double bill entitled APORIA: An Evening of Sublime Paradoxes, a title which is slightly hyperbolic. There are no paradoxes of any kind, only some forced reckonings of a personal nature.
Both plays—the first is Gabriel Nathan’s Morning Was Safe (reviewed elsewhere on TheaterScene.net)—are two-handers that eventually reveal secrets each character has held close to the chest.
The Icarus of Icarus and Amina is a poster of Henri Matisse’s brilliantly colorful abstraction of that Greek mythological character who soared too close to the sun, and Amina (Sidney Caruth who skillfully balances sweetness and strength) is a Bangladeshi who has just this day graduated from a Catholic high school. Because Amina hasn’t made any real friends even after four years of school, she gravitates to Sister Tre’s classroom ostensibly to say good-bye, a farewell that morphs into a bit of soul searching.
Rachel McCain (a walking illustration of “still waters run deep”) plays Sister Tre, a Filipina nun and Amina’s favorite teacher and mentor who cautiously welcomes Amina into her classroom as she does some end-of-term tidying up.
She takes posters down and tosses away some of the students’ artwork including a diorama on the theme of The Great Gatsby that Amina constructed using Barbie and Ken dolls as stand-ins for Daisy and Gatsby. Amina is outraged that Sister Tre has so casually tossed out her “artwork.”
After Amina’s outburst it is slowly made clear each shares a background that led them to that moment: abandonment, purposeful or otherwise, from families who treated both with cavalier neglect.
Although the jettisoning of accents takes something away from the verisimilitude of the play, the real issue is whether a student could or would be able to challenge a teacher in the way Amina challenges Sister Tre without being summarily dismissed. No matter how close a teacher is to a student, disclosures and demands between the two are worrisome even if the rather weak revelations don’t result in much of a payoff dramatically.
Director Roberta Raymond keeps the conversation as real and believable as she could, except, as noted, the lack of accents and the odd balance of power between teacher and student.
The barebones production has just enough scenery to evoke the classroom and, of course, a proper-looking nun’s habit for Sister Tre.
Icarus and Amina (streaming June 25 – July 9, 2021)
Part of APORIA: An Evening of Sublime Paradoxes
Ryan Repertory Company
Running time: 45 minutes (one hour including opening play)