A New Take on Immigration
Sea Dog Theater Produces a Winner
By: Rachel de Aragon - May 09, 2019
The Rare Biosphere, a new play by Chris Cragin Day presented by the Sea Dog Theater and directed by Christopher J Domig. It is a charming and poignant look at at the question of immigration. Through the lives of a very American adolescent lens we are confronted with realities which upset the norm-- and intensify choices. Loyalty, friendship, bias, truth and ultimately the hypocrisy of our legal visions become our shared experience.
The staging space is creatively transformed into a credible sparsely decorated small kitchen and living-room by Guy de Lancey and his stage team.
As Sophie, (Natalia Plaza) an exuberant high school senior bursts in from school, and starts getting herself something to eat, calling out the highlights of her day to her mother in an un-seen room, we are drawn into the richness of her life within these bare-bones surroundings.
Sophie is taking advanced courses, trying for a scholarship to Duke University. She settles in to study at the small dining table and reads; “ Findings have shown that bacterial communities of deep water masses are one to two orders of magnitude more complex than previously reported. Members of this 'rare biosphere' are highly divergent from each other. The 'rare biosphere' is very ancient and may represent a nearly inexhaustible source of genomic innovation.”
Her aspirations to become a biologist and discover the world of the rare biosphere set the metaphor for this production. We are asked to take a second look at our assumptions. Are there worlds within worlds within our visible bubbles? Is this an average American working class home--- if the parents are Hondurans? Is Sophie a typical teen with a job after school, or does her employment mean something more? She must babysit for her younger brothers, but how much can she manage? Must she sacrifice her dreams for her family, or are her family's dreams truly fulfilled by extraordinary academic pursuit?
She is joined by a sweetly persistent would-be suitor. Steven (Zac Owens) is a nice American boy that she knows from church. The two young people stumble towards a deepening friendship--- but what if he knew the truth?
Owens and Plaza are able to convey the energy that is delightfully adolescent, filled with passion,fervor, hope, grand schemes, innocence and inexperience. The Rare Biosphere is playful and engaging. Truth in its deepest sense is what these characters, and we, are discovering in this profoundly timely look at the meaning of who we are as Americans and as human beings.
Like Steven we are forced to ask; What’s wrong with people like your parents and you coming to this country? What’s wrong with it? Your parents work at the laundry. People in this town love that laundry. It’s a good laundry.
This play is accessible, enjoyable, and sharply put together. It should reach a broad audience.