Written by 5:59 am Costa Mesa, One-Person Show, Review, South Coast Repertory, Theater, Uncategorized

Avaaz @ South Coast Repertory – Review

photo credit: Jenny Graham/SCR

Written by Alina Mae Wilson

“With the right author, any story can win awards.”-words from a random person I know.

Allow me to be clear-I am bringing up this statement not to diminish any aspect of the play Avaaz (currently playing at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa). Instead, my purpose is to acknowledge and salute actor and playwright Michael Shayan for creating a work based on the life and experiences of presumably one of the people closest to him in his life—his mother.


Avaaz is a one-man play written and starred in by Michael Shayan. Although the central character is his mother, Roya, he also manages serviceable portrayals of the other people she encounters. It’s a well-acted play that tells the story of one woman’s accomplishments through her son’s (eventually) admiring gaze. While it has some moments that are a bit slow, the fact that it is an overall labor of love shines through.


The set itself is a lavish display of celebratory decadence. Center-stage is a table modeling a table set for the holiday Nowruz—the day which marks Persian New Year. Amongst this sumptuous spread are the seven specific items, each beginning with the letter S. Throughout the evening, Roya (played by Michael Shayan) gives each item’s name, an explanation of its cultural relevance, and a brief reasoning for its’ connection to the Roya’s life. The set itself stays the same all night. However, the detailing in the layout of the table, the glittering chandeliers, and the colorful lights are ample enough in beauty to maintain a feeling of appreciation for the work of Scenic Designer Beowulf Boritt.


Michael Shayan is fairly engaging as Roya, and it’s made clear early on that he is playing his mother. He tells the story of her life, starting with her childhood and working his way all the way through his own adulthood. Avaaz is, at times, funny, sometimes interesting, and there are even brief moments of suspense. I would consider it primarily a sign of appreciation and love from a son to his mother, with the novelty of introducing aspects of Iranian-American culture to the audience.

8 Overall
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  Good Show! OCR Recommended! April 29 – May 27, 2023.

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