Natalie Rine, Associate New York Critic
Three people play a game... in 2075. In a world where physical existence seems imminently impossible, a political exile, a former radical and a climate refugee go in search of the promised land, a virtual utopia only the winner of a deceptively innocent game of dots and boxes gains entry to. Enter the world of No Place, a daring exploration on the future state of humanity’s interconnectivity and immigration crises as seen through the eyes of three individuals, each with their own motivations and burdens for wanting to cross the utopian border to a new identity in a new promised land.
The cast of four, led with precision by director and writer Andrea Ang, march and cascade around the stage with chilling intensity fighting to find the warmth in their isolation and trials. Despite the heavy subject matter, each actor invigorates the inexhaustible text with a surprising and delightful amount of heart, closing the unavoidable audience distancing effect that creating an unfamiliar sci-fi world causes. For this play’s bold, completely original premise, Ang must be applauded; their script reads like poetry, a complex Matrix of lyricism and down-to-earthiness (both puns intended) that is unparalleled at the LadyFest festival at The Tank currently.
Throughout the piece, alliances are made and broken as the individuals’ personal visions cross and collide, chipping away at their individual identities even as they shed light on who they are and why they want to immigrate to the perfect utopia. Armed with the minimalism of a chalk mat dot game, three chairs, and empty wardrobe rolling racks (standing in perfectly as their futuristic chamber walls and playing cells), the Players chat and mull over their dire circumstance together, but even though they can connect the dots of the game, they struggle ultimately to connect with each other. While the winner of this child’s game is granted citizenship in paradise, the fate of the losers is unclear, and they fear death upon returning to where they came from. The only hint to the greater, sinister system guiding their social experiment of immigration is the mysterious masked figure (played equal parts haunting and hilarious Natalie Ahn), an omnipresent custodian-jailer hybrid that holds the literal keys to the Players’ lives, exemplifies this chilling and intriguing original plot. It is with great intention that the characters have one scene to bemoan the loss of their homelands to global issues we know and fear today; their countries were swallowed by the sea and ravaged by revolution, sound familiar?
This showcase, created by Square One Collective, deserves a greater audience as the issues and definitions of immigration, refugees, and home are questioned and resonate stronger now more than ever in a continually advancing and shrinking technological world. No Place stands as a powerful, haunting piece about global inter-connectivity where too much information has led to not enough empathy in a not-too-distant, deadly future.
“No Place,” a developmental showcase created by Square One Collective, is presented by the The Tank as part of LadyFest. It is written and directed by Andrea Ang. “No Place” stars Juliana Suaide, Sarah Mceneaney, Ana Cantorán Viramontes, and Natalie Ahn. Designers include Emma Hasselbach (Sound), Carol Jeong (Lighting) and Kellie Paz (Stage Management). Run time is about ninety minutes, no intermission.
“No Place” ran at The Tank (312 W 36th St, 1st Floor) as part of the festival LadyFest. For more information, please visit www.thetanknyc.org.
Photo: Juliana Suaide, Sarah Mceneaney, Ana Cantorán Viramontes, courtesy of Emily Owens PR.