Mercedes and Zaruhi is written by award-winning playwright Anush Aslibekyan and translated, performed, and directed by award-winning actor/filmmaker Nora Armani. The play focuses on sisters Mercedes and Zaruhi, who were raised in Greece but dream of returning to Armenia, the country their parents once called home. The sisters are at odds as to when that return should be. When Zaruhi expresses an unwavering desire to immigrate back to Armenia immediately, the year being 1948, Mercedes expresses disapproval as she is concerned that a war-torn Armenia will not be the home Zaruhi imagines it to be. The play follows Zaruhi as she builds a life in Armenia alongside the country rebuilding itself. The play concludes in 1991, the year Armenia declared independence and the year Mercedes passes.
It is no surprise that Mercedes and Zaruhi is a play that, as of this year, has been officially included in the 10th-grade syllabus for Modern Armenian Literature. The play masterfully conveys major victories and hardships in Armenian history through Zaruhi’s narration of her life alongside events that impact her as an Armenian immigrant. Nora Armani is captivating as Zaruhi in some moments and, in others, is hindered by her pacing. I couldn’t help but feel as though she had the potential to deliver a flawless performance if the momentum never halted.
The one-person performance of Mercedes and Zaruhi needed a seasoned director who was not also performing the piece. There were moments when pauses felt ambiguous on whether they were intentional and others where they felt as though the entire piece had ended. However, despite the pacing, the show had moments of brilliance that left me in awe of Armani’s performance and Aslibekyan’s writing; moments that moved me and made me yearn to see the performance polished and done again.
"Mercedes and Zaruhi"
Written by Anush Aslibekyan
Performed by Nora Armani
November 6, 2022
The 13th United Solo Festival
October 4- November 20, 2022
410 West 42nd (btw 9th and 10th Avenue)
Jackie Leon is a playwright and actor inspired by the subversive. They recently graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre at Marymount Manhattan College. As a first-generation American and Afro-Colombian Jackie writes through the lens of shattered rose colored-glasses. Their audio play," Ghost Talk: Peach Street" has been featured at Scawwy Howwow Inc. on their Podcast, "Found Cassettes" and their one-act cosmic horror play "RASA" is currently in production. They have also recently had the honor to be a part of the 24-hour Play Festival at INTAR and was cast in Catskill Mountain Shakespeare's production of Midsummer Night's Dream as their Lysander.