Wish You Were Here – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Life is filled with challenges: getting an education, a job, finding a mate and raising a family, cooking meals, making a home, paying bills, dealing with illness and loss, creating joy with family and friends, and staying safe and thriving in freedom. Home and family are our heart. What happens when both are threatened? Playwright Sanaz Toossi takes you to an unimaginable place, Iran, from 1978 to 1991, in the midst of the Islamic Revolution, when the people in power controlled the citizens every move, dictating how to live and breathe in war and chaos.

From now until Saturday, October 28, the Yale Repertory Theatre will make you witness to the trauma of five girlhood friends, a sisterhood, in the complicated and intriguing tale “Wish You Were Here.” Eavesdrop as this close-knit cliche try to achieve normalcy in a world that embraces upheaval and has done so for over a decade. How do you plan weddings and cling to your friendships before your relationships exhibit clashes that signal change has invaded your lives as you once knew them?

Come make the acquaintance of Bahar Beihaghi’s Salme who is all aflutter as she prepares to marry, in a cirrus cloud of white satin. Surrounding her, offering advice stuffed with sexual innuendos and sincere concern for her welfare are the two pals united in the pledge never to marry or have children Anita Abdinezhad’s Nazanin and the only Jew in the group Vaneh Assadourian’s Rana, the medical school hopeful who wants to study in America but promises to return to her homeland Shadee Vossoughi’s Shideh, and the wildly joyful Zari in the personage of Ava Lalezarzadeh. Later a new friend joins the dwindling group, Sahar Bibiyan, who illustrates the changes that have invaded this conclave of friends.

The play, with joyfulness tucked into the trauma, explores how free you are inside your home if a revolution, like the Iran-Iraq War, is raging outside your doors. How do you decide whether to flee your homeland or stay and seek sanctuary amidst the sirens and bomb shelters? And if you disappear will any one try to find where you have gone?

Sam Skynner’s photos and projections underscore the closeness of these women, who are dressed in costumes by T. F. Dubois, on a set designed by Omid Akbari, all under the sensitive and skillful direction of Sivan Battat.

For tickets ($15-65), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Let this talented cast of “hilarious richly complicated women” show, in their own words, their need to fight for basic human rights as they cling to their need for normalcy, when all they truly desire is a safe place to call home.