Monday, July 11, 2016

Review of The Cuckoo's Theater Project's Anon(ymous)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Anon(ymous). It was by Naomi Iizuka and it was directed by Rocco Renda. It was about a man named Anon, who I think is based on Odysseus, and the adventures that he goes on with the help of a goddess, Naja (Aziza Macklin) after he has been shipwrecked fleeing from a war with his mother, Nemasani (Priya Mohanty). On his journey to find his mom he makes plenty of friends and plenty of enemies. It is about love, modern-day crises with mythology mixed in, and persistence. This was a moving show. I liked it and I thought that it made some really good points about war, family, and immigrant experience.

I noticed a lot of characters from the Odyssey, and I am a big Greek mythology fan so I noticed a lot of references. I think those references were really fun. I noticed the Cyclops was a butcher named Mr. Zyclo (Jack Wright) who ate people. In the modern day people don't have the same fears as they used to, like Cyclopses and three-headed dogs. Now we are scared of mass murderers and guns and robbers. I also noticed Athena who was Naja. In the Odyssey, Athena is the one who is helping Odysseus. And in this version Naja is helping Anon. In this version their relationship is more romantic. I felt like it gave more romantic tension to the plot, which was good.

I also noticed Penelope who was Odysseus's wife, but in this version the woman called Penny was his mother. This one more payed tribute to the Odyssey instead of just laying it out, because they make a point that her name is not really Penelope, but her name is just "too hard" to pronounce. That's what the boss, Mr Yuri Mackus (Wright) says. He is like the suitors of Penelope who all want to marry her, and he wants to marry her too. I think it was a good decision to have the Penelope figure not be Anon's wife but his mother because he did a lot of things that would make you not like him as much if he were married, like kiss Naja. He rescues his mom from the boss because he loves her and not because she's his property, and I liked that better.

A really cool aspect of this show is that a lot of the people wore masks (by Amber Lee Olivier). That showed that all these people were kind of hidden to Anon. He's different from everybody else because he is not wearing a mask, and that makes him Anonymous to everyone else. It is kind of like reversing the mask. At one point everybody in the workhouse was wearing masks except the mother and that made her kind of the strange one, and then she is rescued by someone who is like her, her son, who is also not wearing a mask. I thought the entire concept of the masks was great and the masks were beautiful.

This show really made me consider the position of an immigrant, which can be complete confusion and distress because you are the outsider and some people don't feel like you fit in. At the beginning there was a poem about how beautiful Anon and Nemasani's home was and how there were huge butterflies and leaping frogs, but then one day a war started and they couldn't do anything about it. But they still want to go home because that was their home and they loved that place. But they can't can't go home because the place is destroyed and could actually hurt them. It is very complicated.

People who would like this show are people who like Odyssey references, beautiful masks, and epic stories about immigrant experiences. I think that people should go see this show. It's a moving mix of Greek myth and what's happening in our world today. I really liked it!

Photos: Sussan Pirll

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