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A Deeply Moving Drama Unfolds at Signature Theatre

A Deeply Moving Drama Unfolds at Signature Theatre

Selling Kabul
Signature Theatre
Jordan Wright
March 8, 2023
Special to The Zebra

Yousof Sultani and Awesta Zarif (Photo/Christopher Mueller)

As the repercussions ripple out across the world after the U. S. retreat from the war in Afghanistan, its people continue to be deeply affected in a myriad of ways. This neatly crafted play focuses on one family’s struggles to navigate the frightening and endless fallout. In award-winning writer Sylvia Khoury’s play Selling Kabul, family members Taroon (Mazin Akar), his sister Afiya (Awesta Zarif) and her husband Jawid (Yousof Sultani) are living in a small one-bedroom flat in Teheran. They are barely surviving. Taroon, who acted as translator for American soldiers, is in hiding from the Taliban who are actively hunting down all Iranians who aided the Americans. He knows, if captured, he will be tortured and killed. The lives of his friends and family members are similarly endangered if they are found to be collaborating in any way.

In a crumbling economy, Jawid tries to support his wife and son-in-law sewing Taliban uniforms in his family’s tailor shop while Afiya brings in additional income by mending their uniforms. They hope their familiarity with the soldiers will protect them. Jawid observes guiltily, “I sold Kabul for a television set.”

The Taliban’s harsh edicts and the soldiers’ omnipresence make daily life a constant struggle. They are all in danger from prying eyes like those of their neighbor and Afiya’s best friend, Layla (Neagheen Homaifar), whose unannounced visits terrify them forcing Taroon to hide in an armoire. While Taroon awaits a message from the U. S. Immigration approving his asylum, his wife is in hospital giving birth to their first child. A wrenching decision is made by the family. He must not risk a visit to see his newborn son.

Awesta Zarif and Neagheen Homaifar (Photo/Christopher Mueller)

When after four months in hiding Taroon receives no word from America, Jawid and Afiya conspire to smuggle him out of the country with the help of a fixer. There is no guarantee he will make it out alive. Afiya tells him, “You will leave without a visa or without your head!”

This tightly knit drama shows us the human costs of a country at war with its own citizens and the agonizing and uncertain decisions its people are forced to make just to stay alive.

The small cast shines with a tenacious incandescence under the superb direction of Shadi Ghaheri.

Scenic Design by Tony Cisek; Costume Desgin by Moyenda Kulemeka; Lighting Design by John D. Alexander; Sound Design by Matt Otto; Cultural Consultant & Dramaturg, Humaira Ghilzai.

For more information the theater suggests three organizations:

Aschiana Foubndation at; Afghan_American Foundation at; and Afghan-American Women’s Association at

ousof Sultani and Awesta Zarif (Photo/Christopher Mueller)

Through April 2nd at Signature Theatre in Shirlington Village, 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA 22206. For tickets and information visit or call the box office at 703 820-9771.

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