By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
In the office of an Ari Gold-like agent (Michael Federico), Ashraf agonizes. He can't seem to get anyone, much less his greedy agent, to understand why he'd hesitate to play a Middle Eastern villain. The dance of seduction begins. Can Ashraf be convinced to swallow his principles and take the role? The director even has him do an impromptu screen test with the starlet...in their underwear.
Jihad Jones is a funny play with a sharp, if obvious, POV. El Guindi, an up-and-comer in regional theater, was born in Egypt and became an American citizen in the 1990s. Through Ashraf, he goes after the distorted images of Arabs in Hollywood. "Why am I the only one who sees this?" Ashraf says, waving the script at the agent and director. "The pages groan with it. There are enough stereotypes here to create a whole new cartoon network."
El Guindi's play is a winner, but KDT isn't rewarding it with a winning production. Lead actor Rains, who has the face and six-pack abs to be a real movie star, gets the tone right, but everyone else in the production directed by Tina Parker veers off into vaudeville. Federico goes Costanza-like, throwing himself across the desk and letting his pants drop to his ankles. Lulu Ward turns the starstruck secretary into a blithering idiot. Spillman, KDT's go-to pretty girl, wouldn't be a believably sexy teenager if she were filmed through Doris Day gauze. She's too old and too brittle to play anyone's idea of a bombshell.
Greater Tuna continues through June 7 at Flower Mound Performing Arts Theatre. Call 972-724-2147.
Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes continues through June 27 at Kitchen Dog Theater. Call 214-953-1055.
No contest, this take on Jihad Jones just doesn't translate from the page to the stage.