So I went into JT Rogers' Blood and Gifts, a play about the US involvement in the Afghanistan war with Russia with a little hesitation. I'm happy to report that the play is an excellent piece of theatre and for those of us less politically inclined it isn't too much over our heads and doesn't require much prior knowledge of the events to have a rich and full evening. After a previous run last year at London's National Theatre, it officially opens Off Broadway at Lincoln Center tonight.
Set during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, and with a CIA agent as our main entry into the intricate jockeying for power on all sides and from all countries, Blood and Gifts is an extremely rich, entertaining and suspenseful thriller of a play. The play begins when the agent arrives in Pakistan in 1981 to provide secret funding and ammunition to Afghan freedom fighters and ending 10 years later with the outcome of what those actions causes. Rogers has crafted a well written and easy to follow play and director Bartlett Sher has created an intense production yet one with extremely personal connections to the characters and actions of the play.
|Bernard White and Jeremy Davidson|
|Jeremy Davidson, Jefferson Mays and Michael Aronov|
|Jeremy Davidson, Gabriel Ruiz and Jefferson Mays|
While the play only hints at and never shows the true blood shed that our actions cost, the play is at times intense but also one with many moments of humor, mostly supplied by Jefferson Mays as a British secret service agent who befriends Davidson.
|Robert Hogan, Jeremy Davidson and Bernard White|
The rest of the ensemble plays multiple parts with Andres Munar especially effective as both an Afghan soldier and a CIA agent.
Blood and Gifts is an extremely well written play that perfectly shows how political savvy, trust, fear and the constantly changing and shifting alliances between multiple countries is a huge struggle for not only a single country but also one man to deal with. It is personal, political and not to be missed.
Official Show Site
Interview with JT Rogers, author of the play: