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Festival Review: Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran ***

Michael Cox reviews an ambitious production that doesn't completely work.

Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran is well-intentioned theatre. It is filled with many great, interesting ideas. It sadly doesn’t gel together.

The production’s concept is creative: audiences use Instagram to help illustrate the story of two real Iranian individuals whose lives and deaths serve as symbols for generational divide, religious strife and material consumption. This is all juxtaposed with historical history and archaeology, asking questions about legacy and humanity.

Javaad Alipoor’s production is ambitious. A lot of thought, work and creativity have gone into everything, and the scale of what is achieved with the use of technology is commendable. Alipoor and fellow performer Peyvand Sadeghian narrate the tale through images and live video feeds, and they have a personable rapport with the audience.

But it doesn’t completely work, with audiences watching non-synched videos and focus being lost on the story in order to look at the tech. Only the final moment—delivered in simplicity and with passion—manages to engage the mind.

It’s possible that Rich Kids can work with more development, but there is irony that the production is let down on its reliance on the very technology that much of its publicity is touting.

Performs in repertory at the Traverse until August 25. Check the venue for specific times.

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