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A solo play with sci-fi shadings peopled by eight characters twenty years from now that tackles the subject of rape intellectually rather than viscerally.

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Qurrat Ann Kadwani in a scene from “Intrusion” (Photo credit: Jamal Burke)

[avatar user=”Darryl Reilly” size=”96″ align=”left” ] Darryl Reilly, Critic[/avatar]More in the style of informative advocacy event for the lecture circuit then a theatrical work, Intrusion wanly tackles the subject of rape. “I set out to create a show that addresses the systemic problem of rape culture from an intellectual standpoint…” is how writer-performer Qurrat Ann Kadwani describes her solo play that was inspired by the 2012 fatal gang rape of Jyoti Singh in India. Ms. Kadwani’s intellectual approach is the problem. Instead of a raw depiction of the topic, this is a dry recitation.

The Exonerated was a 2002 long-running and award-winning powerful play told in the first person that was based on the stories of six people falsely convicted of capital crimes. In Intrusion, we’re bombarded by statistics, observations and opinions voiced by eight stock characters for an hour without drama.

The murky sci-fi conceit has the play taking place 20 years into the future where rape has been eradicated. The narrator periodically has trouble sleeping and to unwind sits outside on the stoop of her apartment building. One night she sees a woman lingering in front of the hospital across the street.  Intrigued, she follows her in and learns that she has been raped. This leads the narrator on a path of discovery though the futuristic element doesn’t add clarity or relevance to the examination.

Qurrat Ann Kadwani in a scene from “Intrusion” (Photo credit: Jamal Burke)

We get the statements of a reporter, a prosecutor, a day trader, a psychologist, a politician, a student and a college professor. These cursory fictional figures are rendered by clichéd characteristic traits and they offer data on the subject. Kadwani’s treatment is not compelling and she sets an Anna Deavere Smith-type task for herself in portraying all of these people.

Even though Kadwani possesses an appealing stage presence, has a solid performance resume and exhibits talent, her multiple characterizations are rudimentary and do not elevate her thin material. She changes shirts, puts on different ties and takes eyeglasses on and off while altering her voice and physical attributes while making little impact.

Director Constance Hester’s staging has smoothness and briskness. Kadwani is varyingly well-positioned throughout the presentation that takes place in a conference room setting with gray walls. Taylor Edelle Stuart’s accomplished projection design of abstract images that occasionally appear is of museum quality. Lighting designer Caroline M. Trewet’s efforts steadily enhance the production.

Being cerebral rather than visceral, Intrusion’s noble aims are unfulfilled in this theater piece.

Intrusion (through October 26, 2018)

QK Company

St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 West 46th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 800-447-7400 or visit

Running time: 65 minutes with no intermission

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