Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Where We Belong
Also see Rebecca's review of Always...Patsy Cline
Where We Belong centers around one student's attempt to reconcile her personal love of Shakespeare with the ongoing legacy of British Colonialism that very nearly destroyed her people, their language, and their history. Mohegan theatre-maker Madeline Sayet shares all the details of her experience leaving home for England in order to get a Ph.D. studying Shakespeare. It is a deeply personal journey of disillusionment and self-discovery. Sayet uses her wry charm and soothing demeanor to add an element of humor and keep much of the mood light.
Director Mei Ann Teo and their creative team expand and deepen the impact of Sayet's narrative. Terik Schilke's minimalist original compositions and sound design are engaging and evocative. Employing a clean, almost spartan aesthetic, production designer Hao Bai creates an entire world for Sayet to occupy on the stage. The deceptively simple set develops and shifts along with the story. It is a stirring synergy of light and sound and meaning.
Sayet uses these elements to tell her own story and hold up a mirror to those of us watching. As her tale coalesces, the audience cannot avoid considering where we fit into the narrative. Colonizer or colonized? Critical thinking or blind acceptance? Vocal defender of oppressed peoples or passive audience to discrimination? As Sayet so aptly points out, we can find ourselves taking sides in the war even when we attempt to choose peace. Sayet cannot solve all of the problems she encounters along her path, but she can lay them out for all to see. And, perhaps, help us see ourselves more clearly in the process.
Where We Belong runs through May 8, 2022, at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 South Broad Street, Philadelphia PA. Free tickets are available to Indigenous Peoples in the region. Tickets are available at www.philatheatreco.org or by phone at 215-985-0420.