nytheatre.com review by Stephen Graybill
As an actor, it is sometimes
difficult to let go of oneself and step into the life of only one other
person. However, in Refugees, showing at Arthur’s Dress Shop,
Stephanie Satie will argue differently. She confronts this difficult
responsibility and steps into the lives of thirteen other people.
August 15, 2002
Portraying a New York City ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, Satie divulges the past and present issues of thirteen diversely-cultured characters, including herself. In what has been dubbed "theater of testimony," as it is a recreation of Satie’s own experiences, we follow this eclectic group as they become a closer circle of friends, and discover more about their cultural differences, as well as their personal objections with each culture.
The writing highlights themes such as feminism and the active discrimination that occurs among the characters. Satie’s script does a good job of displaying the vast cultural differences between the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and America; and how hard it may be for each to accept their differences. Quite apropos one might say.
As I watched and listened to Refugees, I wanted to be taken on a journey into the world of the characters at this chosen moment in their lives. Unfortunately, it was a confusing voyage for me, since I was wondering at times who Satie was portraying. I felt uncontrollably drawn to concentrate more on her transitions from character to character than to focus on the dialogue. While each character has his or her own semi-distinctive voice, their personalities are less distinct. To Satie’s credit, she does indicate a change from character to character with separate signature gestures, and pulling off thirteen characters within 90 minutes of a play is a "tour de force," as they say.
Refugees turns out to be a rare and educational display from beginning to end.