Tent of Dreams: An Occuplay

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Editorial Review

Trying to capture McPherson’s movement
By Celia Wren
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The road to Fringe is paved with good intentions: Witness, for instance, “Tent of Dreams: An Occuplay,” mounted by Nu Sass Productions. A collaboratively generated piece, written by Emily Crockett and directed by Emily Todd, the show attempts to capture the heady idealism and invigorating sense of community that -- according to the play’s creators -- fueled the Occupy D.C. movement in McPherson Square in late 2011 and early 2012. Alas, with a stagy and lurching presentation, and a script that’s less a story than a primer on Occupy culture, the production is likely to get the Down Twinkles hand gesture from many theatergoers.

Performed against a background of scrawled cardboard signs (“We the People, Not They the Corporations”; “Money Is Not Free Speech,” etc.), with a little awning standing in for a tent, the play centers on Lydia (Joanna Stevens), a debt-
burdened college grad who initially visits McPherson Square out of curiosity. Won over by the camaraderie and the protestors’ sense of righteous conviction, she joins the movement and experiences the highs and lows of encampment life.

When it’s not holding forth on the human microphone and other aspects of Occupy lore, “Tent of Dreams” dwells on the interactions of various characters, including Jamie (Aubri O’Connor), an energetic facilitator; Razz (Kelly Keisling), a hippie with a hazy grasp of movement ideology, and Abe (Ed Klein), a tragedy-scarred homeless man.

The most engaging figures are Christiana (a vibrant Dannielle Hutchinson), an amiably incendiary anarchist; and Jacob (the poised John Brougher), a divinity school enrollee with a sharp sense of humor. Even when these relatively dynamic characters are center stage, however, the play seems a plodding trip through a CliffsNotes version of the past.