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"Almost Equal To" by Jonas Hassen Khemeri
City Garage at Bergamot Station Arts Center
Santa Monica, CA
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How much do you earn? Who do you serve? The new world economics is built on inequality. The concentration of wealth at the top end of the population threatens us all. This remarkable new work from one of Swedens most celebrated novelists and playwrights takes on this issue in highly personal terms: a young man from an immigrant background trying to find his first job; a professor of economics desperately trying to hold onto the one he has; his wife, who nurses fantasies of an ecologically responsible life in the country; a homeless hustler who might be more than he seems; and a young woman who, in the cut-throat world of her office, may or may not be responsible for the death of a rival co-worker. Think economics is strictly for academics? This play, with its unforgettable moments of funny and brutal honesty about the human cost of a rigged system, will make you think again.

Jonas Hassen Khemiri is one of the most important writers of his generation in Sweden. Khemiris novels have been translated into over twenty languages. He is also a celebrated playwright, whose six plays have been performed by over hundred international companies on stages from Stockholm to Berlin to New York to London. He was awarded a Village Voice Obie Award for his first play Invasion!, which premiered in New York in 2011. The second play God Times Five toured Sweden and the third play The Hundred We Are received the Hedda Award for best play in Norway. Khemiris  [Almost Equal To] premiered at Dramaten in Stockholm in October 2014 to rave reviews. It has been performed in Germany, Norway, and Iceland.


"Director Frederique Michels staging strikes a perfect balance between irony and sympathy for characters whose actions grow increasingly dark and grim. The work is more accessible and emotionally involving than many of Michels productions: Its a play about people prevented by circumstance from living the lives they think they deserve  and the darkness that grows in the soul as a result of that. The writing and the performances crackle with a bitter and incendiary tone, but Michel leavens the Ayn Rand-esque cruelty with touches of her trademark whimsy  frequent interruptions by a cartoonish 19th century economist (Bo Roberts) or hilariously sour-faced digressions from a mean employment counsellor (Ann Bronston). As a Swedish writer and critic, Khemiri frequently approaches American-style capitalism with a distaste that almost borders on the shrill, but his points are made with admirable precision and tenderness. Performances are subtle and sensitive, particularly Loviskas compassionate turns as both the adjunct and the Russian immigrant. As a member of City Garages stalwart ensemble, Loviska is emerging as a performer of remarkable depth; his acting possesses such an undercurrent of emotional danger that you cant easily predict how a scene in which he appears is likely to go. Plakes performance as the store clerk is surprisingly complex as well  shes likable, even as she evolves into a creature of harrowing selfishness."

Reviewed by Paul Birchall
City Garage Theatre
Through July 2
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City Garage at Bergamot Station Arts Center (View)
2525 Michigan Ave. Building T1
Santa Monica, CA 90404
United States


Arts > Theatre

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!



Edda S.
Santa Monica, CA United States
Jul 01, 2017 11:33 AM
Carla L.
Lawndale, CA United States
Jun 27, 2017 1:55 PM
Name Withheld
Santa Monica, CA United States
Jun 24, 2017 12:16 PM
Name Withheld
Los Angeles , CA United States
Jun 23, 2017 10:59 PM
Name Withheld
West Hills, CA United States
Jun 20, 2017 3:00 PM

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