THE BUTCHER

In 2006, the butcher and sole proprietor of the Super Halal Market in suburban Springfield, VA ducked into the walk-in freezer to fetch some goat meat for a customer. When he returned moments later, the customer’s severed left hand lay on the floor by the meat saw, and a trail of blood led all the way out of the store. Witnesses said the customer had used the saw to cut off his own hand, proclaiming again and...
In 2006, the butcher and sole proprietor of the Super Halal Market in suburban Springfield, VA ducked into the walk-in freezer to fetch some goat meat for a customer. When he returned moments later, the customer’s severed left hand lay on the floor by the meat saw, and a trail of blood led all the way out of the store. Witnesses said the customer had used the saw to cut off his own hand, proclaiming again and again that he was “not a terrorist.” He had done it, he professed calmly, “for Allah.” But what exactly had he done? And why? In the ensuing weeks, the butcher, his wife, a reporter, and one innocent family try to make sense of this ultimately bewildering (and all too true) event.

O'Neill semi-finalist, 2014

“[A] play that is so good, I suspect it will be picked up by every major regional theater company in the country… [T]he discussions on the way home and late into the week following will say a lot about you and how much you love real theater.” — Sidney B. Simon, Sanibel-Captiva Islander
  • Recommend
  • Download
  • Save to Reading List

THE BUTCHER

Recommended by

  • Joe Carlson:
    2 Apr. 2019
    An astonishment. The architecture then construction of this play is flawless. Each character, each action, each reaction, is part of a carefully calculated schemata effectively increasing dramatic suspense with each and every turn of the screw. Five characters speak in five unique voices that define them but also likely confuse others. Both wives, both husbands, are somewhat alike, but still divided by differences. All religions seem odd to other religions: sacred oddities that cannot be transgressed. Rapture? Insanity? Belief? Delusion? Sacrament? Sin? Fanatics? Saints? Yes, the play is a challenge: good, we need more such challenges. Thank you, Gwydion Suilebhan.
  • Patricia Milton:
    14 Mar. 2017
    Fascinating and thought-provoking work about people of faith. A rare theatrical experience, to be sure. No easy answers, but the questions will keep you engaged throughout the play, and long after.
  • Asher Wyndham:
    8 Mar. 2017
    A play that cuts deep emotionally and intellectually. The difference between authenticity and fake in respects to faith is examined, as well as belief versus hope, reason versus craziness. The playwright cuts deep into these characters like a butcher with a knife. Characters that I haven't seen on the page and stage are brought together in this satisfying play.

Character Information

  • Massoud Esfahani
    44,
    Iranian American
    ,
    Male
    Muslim owner of a modest Halal butcher shop
  • Sholeh Esfahani
    43,
    Iranian American
    ,
    Female
    His wife, a Muslim nutrition student
  • Jane Horvath
    29,
    White
    ,
    Female
    An Evangelical housewife
  • Wes Horvath
    42,
    White
    ,
    Male
    Her husband, also Evangelical; owns a Buick dealership
  • Deborah Niefeld
    32,
    White
    ,
    Female
    A Jewish-atheist reporter

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Thrown Stone
    ,
    2017
  • Reading
    ,
    Manhattan Theatre Works
    ,
    2013
  • Workshop
    ,
    Gulfshore Playhouse
    ,
    2013
  • Workshop
    ,
    Great Plains Theatre Conference
    ,
    2011
  • Reading
    ,
    Mead Theatre Lab
    ,
    2008

Production History

  • Professional
    ,
    Gulfshore Playhouse
    ,
    2015
  • Workshop
    ,
    The Theatre Project/Players Theatre
    ,
    2013

Awards