Homebound’s episode 4 shifts back to Maboud (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh), who’s hanging in his sweat pants, rocking a Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt (long live Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness), desperately trying to file for unemployment. He’s no longer doing temperature checks, but the madness of a truly isolated and directionless life is taking its toll.
“Together Alone,” written by Liz Maestri, takes a funny turn—and it has some edge to it if you consider day drinking in your underwear while working edgy. First, Maboud does have a deep loving relationship in his day-to-day. With his cat, whose food he’s about ready to eat since it’s been weeks since he last grocery shopped despite telling his mom otherwise. No worries. She’s onto him after a few texts, so she signs him up for a teletherapy session with an old college buddy, Jamie (Jamie Smithson).
“Don’t worry about it,” Jamie says, when Maboud cracks a joke about getting his head checked. “Saying yes to therapy is one of the best things you can do for yourself.”
And, Maboud seems ready to chat about all the stages of isolation and how Alina, Alina, Alina occupies his thoughts. But, Jamie’s a hot mess, y’all, and the script gets flipped on who’s helping who.
Maboud’s story is the slow burn of Homebound. The will-they-or-won’t-they plot that may be developing with Alina. His reservations about going outside, which may extend beyond his fear of the coronavirus. His loner status, which gave him a mystique in college, prompting Jamie to call him “the quiet storm” but which has caused his coworkers to write him off as a lost social cause. Maboud, in some ways, feels like an aimless mystery.
“Together Alone” doesn’t fully unravel him but it does shine for the funny nods to all the things that are making couples—like the married Dr. Jamie with a kid working from home – crack. And, just generally hitting the right notes on the breakdown of professional decorum after teleworking for a month. With no end in sight.
“Man, the longer I do this work,” Jamie says. “the more I realize I don’t know jack shit about people.”
Smithson’s no stranger to comic roles and proves his weight in gold here with the comedy Maestri and director Ryan Rillette give him as the unstrung work from home therapist trying to be a good friend.
The show’s heightened production values continue with video-in-video and more interior filming, less Zoom like footage. We are also getting popups where we see people’s texts as they come in. I like all this blending, and seeing Maboud in his own space was great—especially interacting with his cat. Heck, just seeing that he has a pet he cares for gave insight into who he is.
But, I am ready to see Craig and Maboud interact again and understand how that relationship works within this world, especially given all we are learning about Maboud—the loner. The quiet storm hasn’t seen his mom in over a year, although she calls him regularly. A nice bit of character is revealed when he speaks with her in Persian (subtitled for us non-Persian speakers).
I’m still wondering why, when faced with Internet issues, Craig called Maboud first, given that Maboud seems to keep everyone at arm’s length. How are they connected in a meaningful way or in a way that will prove meaningful now? Perhaps Psalmayene 24, in next week’s episode, will give us a clue.
Round House Theatre’s Homebound is an original web series that explores life under Stay-at-Home orders in the Nation’s Capital.”Together Alone” is written by Liz Maestri. Directed by Ryan Rilette. Featuring Jamie Smithson and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh. Produced by Ryan Rilette and Ed Zakreski. Edited by Matthew Riggieri. Sound and Original Composition by Matthew Nielson. Post Production Courtesy of Digital Cave. Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.
The 10 episode Homebound series is produced as a benefit for Round House Theatre’s Resilience Fund.