I am glad that I did not read the details of Mosaic Theater’s “Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World,” before seeing the unique story about love and expectations. It is being billed as a “romantic comedy,” but as such, it did not meet my expectations. Instead, “Pilgrims,” exceeded my expectations by being complex and loaded with the unexpected.
Yes, there is romance between a non-stereotypical Egyptian American and an American woman that some would call adventurous and others would call a pure slut. The staged exploration is part of Mosaic’s long-running “Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival.” However, I could not imagine a Middle Eastern theater or even one in majority Muslim Gambia embracing this play.
The play “brings an irreverent humor and no-holds-barred honesty into a shimmering lover story about a cross-cultural relationship. I love how (playwrite) Yussef El Guinidi creates human, flawed, and totally relatable characters to populate the world he conjures: we do not like everything that Musa and Sheri do by a long shot, but we understand them,” reasoned director Shirley Serotsky.
While the entire cast is wonderful, Sanam L. Hashemi, as the more adherent Gamila, totally fills the emotional and dramatic vessel that the Egyptian-born, British-raised playwright created. Gamila becomes a part of the play during the middle of the first half of the “comedy,” as my honeymoon with the introduction to the story was about to end.