In many ways, I don’t believe Canaan exists. It’s not a play, but a dream. The characters have an essence of reality, but they seem distant despite the intimacy of the theater. The playwright, Mohammad Saad Ali, says in an interview that his inspiration “came from a drug-induced trance” and I’m certain that might have something to do with my interpretation.
Yacub’s level of disenfranchisement seems so elusive and unattainable in a city like New York, but of course, I’m not a native. I’ve only heard of these hardships—of men like Yacub that come home angry and stone-faced after another day without work. From the reaction of his wife and sister, it seems worse than it’s been before. An attitude his expecting wife knows must end before the baby’s born.
With electric onstage chemistry, Yacub and his wife reminisce about the time they fell in love. She thinks back to the poetry they shared with one another. Although the love feels like a burden to Yacub, he eventually comes to the realization that love is a burden worth having.
At least, he has people to come home to love.