BWW Review: CLOSED LANDS, VAULT Festival
In 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall became a beacon of light and the emblem of freedom for everyone in the free world. Around 30 years later, Donald Trump is militating for a barrier to be erected between the United States and Mexico to prevent migrants from crossing the border. Closed Lands takes a hard look at the invisible and metaphorical walls that promote division and hatred.
Simon Grangeat's play debuts at VAULT Festival directed by Becka McFadden in a co-production between LegalAliens and Exchange Theatre. The cast of five - McFadden, Luiana Bonfim, Daiva Dominyka, Catharina Conte, and Lara Parmiani - swap roles in a deeply impactful piece of theatre that tackles the extreme steps taken by politicians to stop immigration.
The constant reshuffling of the international actors paints a harrowing picture of dehumanisation and unfairness, perfectly exhibiting how nationality and origins are an arbitrary matter of luck. A darkly comic take on migration surfaces with the sale of preventing procedures, methods of reclusion, and pure violence in the form of glamorous ads.
The "protective" measures and the advancement in surveillance technology are put side by side with the drastic actions taken to enforce expulsion and the notion of "illegal immigration". Grangeat delineates the dangers of attempting the crossing of borders in graphic detail, raising awareness of the inhuman procedures people are subjected to.
McFadden divides the stage into the partitions of a bigger machine and toys with spacing and distances, removing all separations by the end. Each performer takes their place to validate a system based on injustice and brutality to tear it down in the end. Closed Lands highlights how the line between legal and illegal status is blurred by the officials themselves, who through visas and convoluted schemes make it a struggle to take the statutory route.
The subject is affecting and the execution is concise in this eloquent and eye-opening reflection. The show remains entertaining and ironic even during its darkest moments, and the company succeeds in delivering a poignant and educational portrayal of the state of political divide.