EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: AMERICA IS HARD TO SEE, Underbelly
America Is Hard To See is a verbatim piece that tells the story of the inhabitants of Miracle Village in Florida.
Due to strict restrictions on sex offenders in the state, convicted offenders are unable to live within a certain distance of schools, parks, bus stops and anywhere that children might gather. A solution to this was to build a community in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sugar cane fields, where they could live.
America Is Hard To See challenges perceptions that the audience might have and shows that things aren't really as black and white as you might think. We hear from the actors onstage what the village residents said about their crime and who it was they hurt. It's a very powerful piece and deeply upsetting to listen to in places.
Pastor Patti introduces the inhabitants of Miracle Village into her congregation and there is outrage when word gets out where they have come from. The play combines these interviews with residents with Methodist hymns and folk songs as their neighbours realise that they do still have things in common with the people they dismissed as criminals. The music is stunning and offers an interesting contrast with the unpleasant things that we're hearing about their crimes.
The beauty of this piece is that the audience are reminded that these interviews might be unreliable and we need to make up our own minds. It isn't polished and the narrators get distressed and frustrated. We also hear from some of their victims which is particularly difficult.
America Is Hard To See is not an easy watch but it is an essential one.