Can a play about Islam, female power and basketball celebrity be more than a collection of clashing isms? Yes, in the skillful hands of writer Kareem Fahmy and Artists Repertory Theatre (now through Jan. 29). “American Fast” entertains and enlightens, and is never preachy, as it races through an imaginary March Madness in a very American Ramadan.

Artists’ Repertory Theatre, which is still borrowing The Armory’s basement studio while its own space is renovated, uses the arena format in which two banks of seats face each other while the actors use the long narrow space in between. This captures the courtside intimacy (and claustrophobia) of the basketball arena and the heroine’s three big relationships: with her mom, her female coach and her college boyfriend.

Joseph Gallivan is a news and features writer based in Portland, Ore.

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