Sakina's Restaurant, writer-actor Aasif Mandvi's solo piece set in an Indian eatery, will end its extended run at Los Angeles' Odyssey Theatre March 12. The show had been scheduled to close March 5.
Mandvi's play came to New York attention in late 1998, when it had a well-received run at Off-Broadway's American Place Theatre. It then went on to Toronto's Winchester Street Theatre, Jan. 25-Feb. 14, 1999, according to American Place artistic director Wynn Handman, who helped nurture the show from the beginning.
As for the success of Sakina, which looks at the zeitgeist and characters of a family-owned Indian restaurant in New York, Susan Chicoine (spokesperson for the Off-Broadway mounting) attributed audience interest to the uniqueness of the show's milieu. "The show is picking up a following in the East Indian community," said Chicoine, "because [Mandvi's] done it at benefits and gatherings. And he's often given comments like, 'The way you pick up your sash and wipe your forehead remind me of how my mother did that all the time.' The cultural references are so specific, and it's quite evocative."
Among the characters created and played by Mandvi: Sakina, Samir, Ali, Farrida, Azgi and Hakim.
Sakina premiered at Access Theatre's New Works Festival in 1997. Mandvi's NYC acting credits include subUrbia and the surly delivery man in Death Defying Acts. He studied performance with Handman, artistic director of the American Place Theatre, which led to Sakina's slot as the last show of the 1997-98 season. Kim Hughes, who directs the piece, also helped develop it. For tickets and information on Sakina's Restaurant at Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd in Los Angeles, call (310) 477-2055.
Next up at the Odyssey will be William Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet, opening April 1.
-- By David Lefkowitz