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‘Closely Related Keys’ gives timely look at culture

‘Closely Related Keys’ gives timely look at culture ‘Closely Related Keys’ gives timely look at culture


by Patty Marsters

After 18 months, theatergoers will once again be treated to in-person performances at the International City Theatre starting this week with the opening of “Closely Related Keys.”

Los Angeles-based playwright Wendy Graf ’s family drama is set in New York, shortly before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Julia is a successful attorney who learns she has a half-sister, whom their father asks Julia to host. Neyla, a Muslim who has fled Iraq, is a violinist who wants to audition for Julliard. Julia is suspicious of Neyla, and this clash in motives and cultures forms the focus of this timely production.

“The sisters are both broken, each in her own way, and they come from opposite, seemingly irreconcilable worlds,” says ICT artistic director caryn desai. “As they search for a way forward based on the little they have in common, maybe there’s a lesson for the rest of us during these partisan times.”

Playing Julia is Sydney A. Mason, a University of California, Los Angeles, theater, film and television graduate who appeared in Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble’s “Safe Harbor,” as well as “Fefu and Her Friends” and “Lysistrata Unbound” at the Odyssey Theatre.

Mehrnaz Mohammadi, who portrays Neyla, received a bachelor’s in theater performance from Concordia University in Montreal and a master’s in acting from the University of Southern California. She has performed in “Suppliant Women” with Rogue Machine at the Getty Villa, “Angels in America” at Scene Dock and “Intersection” at the Guthrie Theatre, among others.

Also appearing in the production directed by Saundra McClain are Oscar Best, Adrian Mohamad Tafesh and Nick Molari.

“Closely Related Keys,” featuring a script updated by Graf for ICT, opens tomorrow, Aug. 27, at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Seating will be socially distanced, and masks are required. Tickets for shows through Sept. 12 can be purchased via or by calling the box office at (562) 436-4610.

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