Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Hope Hypothesis

In the excellent Voyage Theater Company production of The Hope Hypothesis, running through November 15 at the Sheen Center, playwright-director Cat Miller deftly shows how easily innocence can be misread as guilt when the authorities involved neither understand the people involved nor care to.

Soraya Broukim, William Ragsdale
Photo: Beowulf Sheehan
The plot is simple: When Amena, a long-time resident of the United States, goes to a governmental agency to complete some immigration paperwork, the clerk freaks out at the flag on her birth certificate. She is soon caught in a bureaucratic nightmare that also ensnares her boyfriend and an ACLU lawyer.  Unfortunately, reality these days is scary enough that Miller needed to write only the smallest twists on reality to drag Amena into an insane and frightening world from which she may never return.

In addition to being tense and suspenseful, The Hope Hypothesis is funny, warm, and pleasingly clever. Its 75 minutes fly by. Miller and her excellent cast imbue potentially stereotypical characters with humanity (only the character of a dumb CIA agent fails to take life), and the characters' interactions ring true in a way that brings further dimension to Amena's adventures in Kafka-land.

Connor Carew, Wesley Zurik, Charlie O'Rourke
Photo: Beowulf Sheehan
The scenery, by Zoë Hurwitz, provides a coolly anonymous setting while also allowing quick and effective transitions into other locations. (I have a personal bugaboo about slow scene changes in multi-scene plays, but The Hope Hypothesis moves quickly due to Hurwitz's scene design and Miller's smooth direction.) The costumes, by Katja Andreiev, suit the characters, and the lighting, by Bailey L. Rosa, and sound design, by M. Florian Staab, nicely support the general sense of dread.

While we constantly hear about the insane prices of Broadway, it is important to remember that all over New York and the entire country, top-notch work can be seen for the price of a movie ticket, medium soda, and medium popcorn. The Hope Hypothesis deserves way more attention than it is likely to get in its short run Off-Off-Broadway, but you have a week to catch it before it goes.

Wendy Caster
(2nd row, press ticket)

With Soraya Broukhim,* Wesley Zurick,* Charlie O’Rourke,* William Ragsdale,* Greg Brostrom,* Connor Carew,* Mary Hodges*

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association

Scenic Designer: Zoë Hurwitz
Costume Designer: Katja Andreiev
Lighting Designer: Bailey L. Rosa
Sound Designer: M. Florian Staab
Production Stage Manager: Sarah Biery
Stage Managers: Erika Blais and Morgan Eisen
Assistant Director: Ann Kreitman
Technical Director: Eric Zoback
Press Representative: Glenna Freedman PR
Casting by: Stephanie Klapper

Graphic Design by: Youness El Hindami

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