Ahmed, desperate to prove himself red-white-and-blue, finally gets his chance when he's handed a new prisoner to interrogate — a man who turns out to be his estranged father (played with agile charm by Terry Lamb). If the set-up initially feels a little neat, it's at this stage that the play gets really interesting and the dialogue most subtle, as father and son act as mutual confessors amid the distorting input from surrogate father (and stand-in for the nation state) Kevin. As the play's title suggests, the freighted specificity of language is at the center of it all — a theme never more poignantly conveyed than when Ahmed's father recounts the first English words he taught Ahmed years earlier, when America was still a hopeful dream a father was instilling in his son.
Ahmed has made good on that dream, while also perverting it out of recognition. "Better to ride the lion than be eaten by it," offers his father encouragingly. But a moment later his father is turning over in his hands the tools of Ahmed's trade with wonder and disgust. "It is not for you to get me out of here," his father decides. "It is for me to get you out." *
Through Dec. 11
Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m. (no show Thurs/24); Sun, 7 p.m., $20-$28
1695 18th St., SF