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A Play Within a Play for the People Who Wrote It

TAD Production of We, The Invisibles Brings Immigrants to Spotlight and Reflects Troubled Times in the U.S.

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A Play Within a Play for the People Who Wrote It

Anthony Karambelas, General Assignment Reporter

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They say immigrants are the heartbeat of Wall Street. But an apple core never sees the light of day unless you clear the cold-blooded, bureaucratic pulp.

 

Susan Soon He Stanton leads audience members through a haze of low-wage workers, high-class phonies, and even a Jewish Mystic. Her hard-hitting docu-drama sets stage in the heart of New York at the famous Lux Hotel, an ostensibly glamorous institution using pretty lights and table settings to veneer its Atlases, a group hard-working people of color who each do the work of many.

 

Stanton takes us through the operations of the Lux, introducing audience members to everyone from the suave security-guard, played by the versatile Eric Lauritzen, to the comically charismatic chef, played by Godwin A. Obeng, a man so charming on stage, you start to feel a sense of vicarious friendship.

 

The whole play is orchestrated by actress, Amy Shu, who’s character, the playwright, literally serves as hostess for her own show. Interview upon interview, Susan tells the stories of those with no platform of their own, sometimes placing herself in the action and other times breaking the fourth wall. Sometimes, this line gets a bit muddied.

 

Susan becomes the primary conduit through which audience members observe the action of the play, and Shu executes this behemoth role to an impressive standard, leading the audience through an intricate, two-and-a-half-hour-long web of names and titles.

 

Underscoring these oral histories, or perhaps buttressed by them, is the story of West African maid Nafissatou, played by Ava Craddolph, and her alleged sexual assault by IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The play follows the ensuing 2011 trials and their unsurprising (typical) outcome, which we would be naive to balk at: man absolved, woman castigated, and oh, here’s something different: new panic buttons installed in New York hotels.

 

As if that made any difference.

 

Director Randee Trabitz holds a mirror on Capitol Hill, so much so you can almost hear echoes of Kavanaugh’s vehement declarations of innocence and the corollary stammerings of championing Republican middlemen. The parallels are striking and leave audience members appalled, but not shocked.

 

Amidst interviews, trials, and the more meta elements, we are introduced to the absurd and ribald behavior of the prodigal upper class. Mini-skirted waitresses report $1,000 shifts spent acceding to requests as ridiculous as spitting in customers’ drinks, stepping on sandwiches before consumption, and having the soles of their high heels licked.

 

The operation of the Lux takes a village, and in this case, the cast plays the parts of many. In fact, the record goes to Yanitze Pimentel and Christian Ruiz, who each play a whopping six distinct roles each. In the absence of dramatic costumes changes, the perennial switching  of characters can be cause for confusion, but it represents an honorable mission on Stanton’s part to reveal as many “invisibles” as she can in the space of two and a half hours.

The play’s run lasts one more weekend: Oct 18, 19, 20 @ 7:30p. Interested viewers should visit the TAD website for ticket information.

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