The California premiere of Tony Kushner's topical Homebody/Kabul is being extended two weeks by Berkeley Repertory Theatre — and the show hasn't even started performances.
Once slated to play April 19-June 9, Homebody has extended through June 23, a month before previews have even begun. More than other stagings of the work, the Berkeley Rep Homebody attracted attention earlier in the year when it looked like the National Endowment for the Arts would hold back its $60,000 grant from the California troupe's production. Soon after the controversy erupted, NEA acting chairman Robert S. Martin bestowed the gift on the Rep.
Homebody/Kabul follows a British woman fascinated by Afghanistan and her encounter with an Afghan man whose fingers were cruelly severed. In the second part, the woman's husband and daughter search to find her in the nation's capital after she has mysteriously disappeared.
The first act is a monologue which recalls the piece's early stage as a solo show. The work-in-progress had a run at London's Chelsea Theatre Centre in 1999 starring British actress Kika Markham, the actress Kushner had in mind when it was written and who will premiere the work at London's Young Vic May 10-June 22.
Former Berkeley Rep company member Michelle Morain (The Oresteia, Beauty Queen of Leenane) plays the Homebody with Charles Shaw Robinson as Milton, her husband. Also in the cast are Heidi Dippold ("As the World Turns," "Guiding Light") as Priscilla, Jacqueline Antaramian (Wrong Mountain) as Mahala, Julian Lopez Morillas as Dr. Qari Shah, Hector Correa as Taliban minister Durranni, Bruce McKenzie (Big Love) as British aid worker Quango Twistleton, Rahul Gupta as the Taliban religious policeman Munkrat and Harsh Nayyar ("Gandi," "Traffic") as the Tajik poet Aziz Mondanbosh. Berkeley Repertory Theatre is located at 2025 Addison Street. For tickets ($38-$54), call (510) 647-2949. Berkeley Rep is on the web at http://www.berkeleyrep.org.
— By Christine Ehren
and Ernio Hernandez