Our guy – the American – in J.T. Rogers’ play “Blood and Gifts,” about the United States’ clandestine effort to blunt the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, is a CIA agent. We see the unfolding events through his eyes. But the character who elicits our sympathy and commands our imagination is an Afghan warlord called Abdullah Khan. He is made credible flesh and elusive spirit at TimeLine Theatre in a riveting performance by Kareem Bandealy, who says his portrait reflects both his own cultural heritage and the desperation that drives this unpredictable warrior.
“I am from Pakistan, so I’ve long been familiar with that culture,” says Bandealy, whose family moved to the U.S. when he was 2 years old.