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Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World ~ Mosaic Theatre

Jordan Wright
February 4, 2020 

Waitress Sheri doesn’t seem like the perfect match for a Muslim cab driver from Egypt.  She’s a free-spirited Caucasian with a potty mouth and a string of lovers who dumped her, and he keeps the Koran beside his bed.  And, though he claims to be casual about his faith, they discuss God on their first date.  After a bit of whisky, she announces, “In a few minutes I’m gonna be a cinch to bang.”  Musa eagerly takes her up on it.

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Freddie Bennett ~ Photography by CHRISTOPHER BANKS

There is a spirit figure in the story, around which themes of religion, gender roles and the complexities of modern life in America and the Middle East, are hung with reverence.  Abdallah is Musa’s friend, a fixer for newly arrived immigrants to the U. S.  Through his business he makes enough money to fulfill his dream to travel to Mecca to join other pilgrims to make the Hajj.  While there, he takes a boat that capsizes, and he is lost at sea.  But Sheri sees his ghost in Musa’s apartment, and he reappears at critical moments as a man whose deep faith guides his journey.

Sanam L. Hashemi and Rachel Felstein ~ Photography by CHRISTOPHER BANKS

Things go sideways when Musa’s fiancée unexpectedly returns a few days early after meeting with his parents in Egypt to plan their upcoming nuptials.  Entering the apartment, Gamila finds Sheri in his bed.  Blindsided by the knowledge that he is engaged, Sheri freaks out and all hell breaks loose between the two women.  As an educated and devout Muslim American, Gamila, is shocked to find out that Musa is shacking up with a woman and the two have it out.

Ahmad Kamal and Rachel Felstein ~ Photography by CHRISTOPHER BANKS

The crux of this dilemma is if Musa will choose Sheri or Gamila?  And will either woman forgive him?  “I can be who I want with her,” he tells Gamila.  When she protests that he is denying his faith and her love, he tells her, “I don’t want roots, customs, traditions and family.  I don’t want the rest of my life to be what I know.”

Ahmad Kamal and Rachel Felstein ~ Photography by CHRISTOPHER BANKS

As the Production’s Dramaturg Salma S. Zohdi tells us, “Each character seeks pilgrimage, albeit in different ways.  Both Musa and Sheri seek spiritual pilgrimage, yet Gamila seeks a homeward bound pilgrimage.  A specific common thread connects all the Muslim characters’ emotional voyage, and that is overcoming the challenges of being a Muslim immigrant.”

Ahmad Kamal and Sanam L. Hashemi ~ Photography by CHRISTOPHER BANKS

A part of Mosaic’s “Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival”, the play is written by Yussef El Guini and directed by Shirley Serotsky.  The story is a powerful and passionate glimpse into the perils of the Muslim experience in America.  Like the region’s desert sands, that experience is not static, it is always shifting.

Hauntingly beautiful Egyptian music by singer Mohamed Mounir backgrounds the play.

Featuring Ahmad Kamal as Musa; Rachel Felstein as Sheri; Freddie Lee Bennett as Abdallah; Gerrad Alex Taylor as Tayyib; and Sanam Laila Hashemi as Gamila.

Set Design by Nephelie Andyonadis; Lighting Design by Brittany Shemuga; Costumes by Danielle Preston; Sound Design by Roc Lee.

Post-show discussions and talkbacks are free to the public.  Visit the website for times and dates.

Through February 16th at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.  For tickets and information visit or call the box office at 202.399.7993 extension 2.

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