Wednesday night marks the official opening of the Vineyard Theatre's “The North Pool,” a cat-and-mouse play by Rajiv Joseph. The Pulitzer finalist's “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” enjoyed a 2011 Broadway run with Robin Williams in the title role.
The one-act, two-character psychological drama takes place entirely in the office of a tightly wound high school vice-principal of more than a decade. On the brink of spring break, with a school entirely deserted, Dr. Danielson has summoned to his office a Middle Eastern-born transfer student named Khadim.
The school has been targeted by vandals, and one incident seriously injured a maintenance worker. The administrator, in prosecutorial fashion, intends to pin this on Khadim, asking questions he privately knows answers to already: Why weren’t you in your 8th-period class last Tuesday? Have you made friends at Sheffield High? And why did you leave the esteemed private Eagleton Academy, your last school, in the first place?
Khadim does himself no favors with his replies, and the issues at play ask audience members to examine preconceived notions about a variety of subjects, class and race chief among them. As the play speeds toward its conclusion, the subject matter veers from geopolitical to material far more personal.
“The North Pool” stars Stephen Barker Turner as the vice-principal, and Babak Tafti, who previously played the role during the play’s world premiere in Massachusetts, in his Off-Broadway debut. Tickets, $30-$75, can be purchased by calling The Vineyard box office at 212-353-0303, or online at vineyardtheatre.org.