New York Daily News
‘Gifts’ wraps up Afghan conflict
Playwright J.T. Rogers has made a career out of sociopolitical dramas. He’s previously tackled Rwandan genocide in “The Overwhelming” and racial divides in “White People.” Now, in “Blood and Gifts,” his earnest and well-acted play at Lincoln Center, he spotlights America’s covert involvement in the Soviet-afghan War and the enduring aftershocks.
The action covers 10 years beginning in 1981 and jumps between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C., and back again.
It’s a dense story with a cinematic sweep, but director Bartlett Sher’s clean and clear staging keeps everything in focus as it plays out on a tiled rectangle recalling a game board. That’s a fitting image for the serious sport of spy versus spy.
The action follows fictional CIA operative Jim Warnock (Jeremy Davidson), who goes to Pakistan to secretly supply guns and money to Afghan rebels fighting the Soviet invasion of their country.
Warnock is a good man but willing to lie to anyone in the name of his mission. He believes the rebels will remain loyal to the U.S. in return. You know how that turns out; hindsight being 20-20, it actually saps the spy thriller of tension.
Davidson, who plays another spy on TV’S “Pan Am,” anchors the cast with a sturdy portrayal. Jefferson Mays, Gabriel Ruiz and Michael Aronov lend excellent support as agents working for, respectively, Britain, Pakistan and the Soviet Union.
Through Jan. 1 at Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, 150 W. 65th St. Tickets: $85; (212) 239-6200.