Brahman/i / by R. Sheth

April 6, 2014
By Hedy Weiss

It is a boy or is it a girl? That, as we learn from the title character in Aditi Brennan Kapil’s flourish-filled, identity-swirling play, “Brahman/i” (subtitled “A One-Hijra Stand Up Comedy Show”), was the perfectly natural, yet altogether bedeviling question posed by an aunt when, years earlier, she visited the hospital after the birth.

And therein lies the crux of the matter in Kapil’s exceptionally clever (fictional) work that, as its producers — Silk Road Rising and About Face Theatre — have neatly described it, “has been written by a female playwright of mixed Indian and Bulgarian ancestry, told from the perspective of a South Asian American intersex person, and performed by Fawzia Mirza, a South Asian Muslim queer woman.”

Mirza, a petite but athletic actress with a sharply sardonic edge, and a persona that can shift from boyish to glam, also happens to give a tour de force performance in the role under Andrew Volkoff’s direction. Throughout, Mirza gets the briefest breaks courtesy of guitarist Damian Conrad, whose crucial spoken line recalls the classic words spoken by Joe E. Brown at the end of Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot”: “Well, nobody’s perfect.”