Critic Rating: 4.9/5
FICTION There’s the family you grew up with: your mom, your dad, your siblings. And then, there’s the family you carry around in your head for the rest of your life. This show is about that second family, the one that lives within you. From Mermaid Palace and Radiotopia, Sharon Mashihi brings you Appearances, a one woman audio show that straddles the line between fiction and truth. Appearances brings to life an Iranian American family and community through the real and fantastical mental machinations of Melanie Barzadeh. Melanie is in her mid 30’s and desires nothing more than to become...
Nicholas Quah - Vulture - Dec 9, 2020
"The show is a bit of a mind-bender to describe, but you could say it’s an ambiguously fictionalized telling of a personal inflection point in Mashihi’s life: She wants to have a child but is not yet traditionally coupled, which runs counter to the expectations of her Iranian American family — in particular her mother, with whom she already clashes on so many other things in the way second-generation kids do. The end result is a thoroughly compelling listen, with the premise of plumbing the emotional depths of engaging with an idea of your family based on your own perceptions, biases, and understanding of them being a luxuriously complicated one. But it can also make for an uneven experience, with moments of genuine feeling and insight punctured by creative tics that border on the self-indulgent. On the one hand, it’s hyperaware and perhaps a little too pleased with itself. But on the other hand, it’s also beautiful, hopeful, and well worth your time."
Galen Beebe - Bello Collective - Dec 2, 2020
"I wish there were a word for a work that is both true and not true. Autofiction is the closest word I can find, but it doesn’t quite fit Appearances. The protagonist and the creator are entirely separate, and yet they are also entirely the same — as the creator, Sharon Mashihi, acknowledges in the prologue. Even without the meta layer, this is a masterful work of fiction, and I look forward to hearing more like it."
PR Staff - PodcastReview.org - Oct 14, 2020
"This established tension, between the real creator and her fictional avatar, gives the story extra oomph from its opening moments. As typical of Mermaid Palace productions, the dialogue is fluid, well-crafted, and faithful to real conversation patterns."
Fiona Sturges - Financial Times - Oct 3, 2020
"You could call it a dramatised monologue or a fictional memoir. However you describe it, everything about the series feels very real indeed. Such is its intimacy and candour, it comes over like an unfiltered recording of the voice inside her head. But the real power lies in Mashihi’s confessional writing, which maintains its rawness and insight even when getting into the minds of family members who are, in many ways, strangers to her. The dilemma of motherhood is central to the series and Mashihi shows how it is cruelly muddied by patriarchal systems and familial expectations. On one level, her series is a poignant portrait of the universal pressures of womanhood and family but, on another, it is a deeply personal excavation of the soul."
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