Alaudin Ullah Creatively Meshes Stand-Up Comedy with Theatre While Sharing Touching Life Stories in

 Dishwasher Dreams, Playing in the Round at The Old Globe 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Alaudin Ullah and Avirodh Sharma. Photo by Rich Soublet.
Dishwasher Dreams, an autobiographical solo show written by Alaudin Ullah, recently made its West Coast premiere at The Old Globe, offering a heartfelt and entertaining glimpse into the author's upbringing as a Muslim in Spanish Harlem with Bangladesh-born parents. Under the direction of Chay Yew and accompanied by Avirodh Sharma's captivating music, this production creatively combines stand-up comedy and theatrical storytelling, resulting in a truly unique and enjoyable experience.

All the creative elements for this show are cohesive and make sense. Yu Shibagaki's scenic design is bare, focusing on a platform/stage for Alaudin to tell his story, accompanied by a fitting platform sort of diagonally placed for Avirodh to play the tabla and emphasize key moments. These two have a tacit support/stage camaraderie, and complement that is very sweet and reflects their artistic partnership.

Alaudin Ullah and Avirodh Sharma. Photo by Rich Soublet.

You can see Alaudin Ullah's vision for this piece, from the concept to the writing, to the staging, it just comes through. The intimate atmosphere in the round created by Chay Yew's direction draws the audience into the world of Ullah's memories allowing a flow between comedic moments and emotional reflections, while Anshuman Bhatia's lighting design skillfully sets the different moods. In stand-up, there is usually a stool with a bottle of water or a drink. Here there is a chair that Alaudin plays around with accommodating the experience in the round by facing all audiences yet, there is no water or drink. This is probably a direction note and also reflects Yew's careful but stern style. 

This experience embraces stand-up meets theatre with an artist who not only shares his upbringing but also rounds it out by giving the audience an ending and not just leaving it in the struggle. He takes you with him not only through the life journey but through the maturity and how appreciation comes with age contrasting how we usually take things for granted while younger. This is an immigrant story that is raw and relatable. Alaudin at the beginning of his career changed his name to "Aladdin" so it would be easier and more recognizable... trust me when I say I CAN relate...

There are various phrases in the piece that made an impact. One, in particular, involves "safe art". Dishwasher Dreams is not safe art and that is a good thing. We need more pieces like this that show different sides of the world, that are both entertaining and emotionally resonant. Ullah will have you leaving the theater with a renewed appreciation for the power of storytelling.

The cherry on top: This production has an all-Asian American design and stage management team.

Currently playing until October 15. For showtimes and tickets please click HERE

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