Before reading this post, I want to make a disclaimer about this production. The Milwaukee Rep recommends this play for patrons 12 years of age and older. This production contains depictions of violence, blood, and profanity. If any of these items are not for you, I would NOT recommend that you attend “Guards at the Taj”. If you can look past the violence, the disturbing image of 40,000 chopped off hands, and profanity throughout then you may enjoy this show.
I personally decided to look through the somewhat odd storyline of this production as well as the profanity throughout the show and focused on the moral of the story as well as the acting. Owa’Aìs Azeem as Babur and Yousof Sultani as Hamayun were PHENOMENAL and hilarious. All of the shows that my husband and I have seen at The Milwaukee Rep this season have been very well performed with very strong actors but these two guys were probably my favorites thus far. The chemistry between these two really made you feel like you were watching two real-life best friends on stage.
The pacing and delivery of lines throughout this production were spot on. I had a hearty laugh out loud several times throughout the production. I’d even dare to say that Owa’Aìs Azeem as Babur was kind of like a Tom Haverford out of Parks and Recreation-esque character. Yousof Sultani as Hamayun was the sensible, mature older brother character. The chemistry was great. As I mentioned, the concept of the story is a bit dark and odd but the set and acting really allowed me to look past that. Throughout the show which runs about 75 minutes long in one act I think I felt every single emotion – happy, disturbed, angry, sad, betrayed…it was like an emotional rollercoaster throughout.
I think this show could be interpreted in a number of different ways and if you were to see the show, I’d love to know your interpretation. I took away the fact that beauty was murdered by a ruler, the king. It made me think to society today and how so many people have their own interpretation of beauty and how many people don’t want anyone to have something more beautiful than what they have. I feel like we can’t let man tell us what is beautiful and what is not. God is the creator of beauty and in an indirect (non-Christian) way I really felt that is what this show was about. I left the theater really thinking about what this meant and how I deal with and process this in my own day to day life.
If this sounds intriguing to you then I highly recommend you take the time to see this production. This show runs through November 4 in the Stiemke Studio at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling the Milwaukee Rep’s ticket office at 414-224-9490 or visiting the ticket office in-person at 108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202 while it is open Sunday – Friday from Noon – 6:00 PM.
In the meanwhile, check out some photos from the show below but beware, there is blood in the photos too. This show is not for the faint of heart.
📸Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow