Diane Flacks’ Unholy posits the question, “Should women abandon religion?” Four female panelists face off in a whip-smart YouTube debate about religion and misogyny.
With opinions flying from a progressive Muslim lawyer (Bahareh Yaraghi), an Orthodox Jewish Rabbah (Niki Landau), an excommunicated nun (Barbara Gordon) and a lesbian atheist pundit (Diane Flacks), Unholy forces to look at our internal views on religion, gender biases, and beyond .
This is the second staging of the play, which is understandable given its timely nature. Flacks literally puts us in the hot seat, so to speak, over the course of the play. During the play, we learn all four women in the debate have experienced some form of trauma. We also learn that religion has not been a choice for one; for another, religion has been a way to connect with humanity; for yet another, it has been a way of life; and still for another religion no longer makes sense.
The characters are relatable and present us with real-world opinions, feelings, and doubts. Landau as the Orthodox Jewish Rabbah presents us the point of view of a woman who wants family, religion, equality as many other women do. Gordon’s character of the excommunicated nun is more complex than we think.
The connection we see between the Muslim lawyer and the lesbian atheist is not surprising — the two women share similar opinions about women’s role in society. Yaraghi and Flacks create just the right amount of tension and sensual connection in their roles. There is a tangible connection here, but somehow that connection is not enough.
I saw myself in some of the characters given my upbringing in a Catholic household mixed with Prostestant family members — only to grow up questioning what religion really means — what purpose does it serve in my life as a woman. Unholy definitely reminds us of the disservice organized religion has bestowed upon women mostly. Although not perfect in every sense, the play is necessary and timely. It is important in creating a dialogue for women to discuss how religion has created a world divided by beliefs, while at the same time, seeking a path towards reconnection.
Unholy continues at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre until December 10, 2017. For more information and tickets, visit nightwoodtheatre.net.
Photo of Diane Flacks and Bahareh Yaraghi by Tanja-Tiziana.