She shares with him the highly personal manuscript of her unpublished “historical fiction,” while he confides in her about his sister in Morocco and his plan to bring her to America. From there, things get complicated — involving Sameer’s dreams of starting his own cellphone business, Miriam’s decision to open a bank account for him (in her name), and the motivations behind both of their actions.
The first act of “Gibraltar” closes at the airport, as the couple waits to welcome the sister’s arrival, when aggressive government investigators suddenly shout out to them and detain them for questioning.
The second act starts with alternating interrogations of Miriam and Sameer, containing a lot of overlapping dialogue about money laundering and terrorism threats, and a very rude awakening about, among other dangerous extremes, the invasive surveillance techniques used to make (or make up) the case against them.
Kathleen Wattis (left) and Maggie Birgel appear in Synchronicity’s “Strait of Gibraltar.” CONTRIBUTED BY JERRY SIEGEL PHOTOGRAPHY
Co-starring in the Synchronicity production, Maggie Birgel and Benjamin Dewitt Sims run the gamut — from smitten lovers to hardened prisoners — with a calm and collected conviction that belies their relatively unproven resumes: She’s done some children’s theater at Horizon and Georgia Ensemble; he just finished the apprenticeship program with Aurora.
May’s supporting cast features Kathleen Wattis in a few scenes of ill-conceived comic relief as Miriam’s flighty, frantic mother. Rounding out the company are Suehyla El-Attar and Brian Ashton Smith in various roles (the detectives, the sister, a lawyer).
What begins as a leisurely paced romance, and methodically develops into something much more complex, feels slightly rushed in its overly abrupt resolution. In the process of packing several mindful and dramatic punches along the way, the star-crossed romance at the heart of “Gibraltar” seems to get sidetracked and shortchanged in all the commotion. When Miriam and Sameer finally reassert their love for each other at the end, it rings oddly unmoving.
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“Strait of Gibraltar”
Through April 23. 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; 5 p.m. Sundays; 8 p.m. Monday (April 10 only). $23-$41 (Wednesdays and Monday are pay-what-you-can industry nights). Synchronicity Theatre, 1545 Peachtree St. (in the Peachtree Pointe complex), Atlanta. 404-484-8636, www.synchrotheatre.com.
Bottom line: Part love story, part political drama.