NEW YORK — Updating a one-person show some 20 years after presenting the original is no easy task. Nora Armani, however, does a more than credible job of it with “Back On the Couch with Nora Armani.”
The new show begins with a fun social media update on what it’s like to be an “ethnic” actor in 2021.
Presented at Theater Row on 42nd Street as part of the 2021 United Solo Theatre Festival on November 21 to a sold-out audience, the action takes place on a stage bare except for a couch, a coat rack and Armani herself.
François Kergoulay’s direction highlights Armani’s enthusiastic acting style — she clearly enjoys performing and her enthusiasm is contagious. One-woman plays take both courage and talent to pull off, as evidenced in the past in performances such as “The Vagina Monologues,” for example, or watching Mary Wilson’s masterful rendition of Diane Vreeland in “Full Gallop.”
As in the play’s original incarnation, Armani takes the audience on a whirlwind tour of her life, beginning with her childhood. Armani’s maternal grandmother survived the Armenian Genocide, while her paternal grandfather left Istanbul for Egypt on the eve of WW I, thus avoiding being conscripted into the Ottoman army. Armani’s childhood in Nasser’s Egypt was idyllic yet difficult, as non-Arab minorities faced almost constant pressure to emigrate.
We then follow the actor as she emigrates to America then Europe and enjoys success as a writer and director.