Novid Parsi’s world premiere of “Through the Elevated Line” at the Chicago Temple will have you at the edge of your seat and leave you wanting more.
“Through the Elevated Line” is about a gay Muslim man moving in with his sister and her husband while navigating the perils of love, guilt and addiction.
Soraya (Catherine Dildilian) moved to the Chicago 11 years ago, became a doctor and married Chuck (Joshua J. Volkers), a South Side Irish man. Soraya’s life was turned upside down and sideways when her brother, Razi (Salar Ardebili), comes from Iran to visit for several months to help with her pregnancy.
It’s pretty clear from the start Razi and Chuck weren’t going to see eye-to-eye, but the end result between the two was shocking.
Chuck is a beefed-up “beer-loving bro.” He’s extremely proud to be an American and South Side Irish. His intentions with Razi seemed pure and genuine at first, but quickly the audience learns that Chuck has some deep-rooted racist and ignorant tendencies. His character is extremely irritating and unlikeable from the get-go; he was pathetic. He was obnoxiously loud, an angry drunk and even once “accidentally” hit Soraya.
Razi is still raw and hurting from the violence and trauma he experienced in Iran due to being gay. Initially, Razi was in culture shock. He wasn’t used to America, Chicago or familiar with the English language. Razi was an extremely likeable character; he was sweet and gifted his sister presents from Iran. This changed as the play progressed. Razi’s likeability begins to seesaw and veer toward a problematic character. The pain Razi carried inside him spiraled into substance abuse and emotionally abusing the people around him.
The skeleton of “Through the Elevated Line” was already made, Parsi had just updated it to reflect today’s current societal issues. This is because “Through the Elevated Line” pays homage to Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Tackling heavy subjects of assimilation, racism, ignorance, gayness in America and Iran, domestic violence, gentrification and sex work is a hard task to take on, considering the play was only two hours long. But Parsi did it.
“Through the Elevated Line” will be performed at the historic Chicago Temple until April 15; don’t miss out.