Growing out of a residency at Dartmouth College, Aftermath was developed and produced by New York Theatre Workshop last year. Unlike The Exonerated, which told the stories of wrongfully convicted survivors of Death Row, it does not derive a part of its success from the participation of celebrity cast members. Everything is subjugated to the dispatches of the displaced Iraqis in an artfully simple staging that presents its subjects, their backs to us, on several benches. When it comes time to bear witness, they move to seven wooden, upholstered chairs facing forward. And the actors, most of Middle Eastern descent, are compelling as they tell the stories — accounts interrupted from time to time to emit a cheer for the Iraq national soccer team as it battles to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
As for the Iraqis, they are unfailingly gracious toward their interviewers, but don't expect your liberalism to get you off the hook. In the quick, steely words of the imam, who interrupts Shahid as he launches into an expression of the distress most Americans felt at the revelations about Abu Ghraib: "You know, I thank those people for their feelings, there are mistakes for which apologies are not enough."
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