Home/Land at Goodman Theatre: Theater review
The young performers of Albany Park Theater Project make a passionate, human-scale case for immigration reform.
You can argue about immigration in this country as a matter of policy and budgets and numbers and jobs. You can reduce undocumented immigrants to a faceless, nameless mass of stereotypes as a way of demonizing or dismissing them, as some foes of immigration reform do; you can also put a convenient label on a group as a way of promoting reform, as do activists who've dubbed those undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children "the DREAMers."
Or you can eschew the macro practicalities in favor of the personal, as the teenage ensemble members of the remarkable Albany Park Theater Project do in Home/Land, a 2012 piece being reprised this week as the capper of the Goodman Theatre's latest Latino Theater Festival. Devised from interviews with immigrants and activists along with stories drawn from the multiethnic ensemble's own lives, Home/Land passionately depicts the strain that immigration policy creates at the individual and, especially, familial level.
The 24 young cast members, working with six credited adult directors led by APTP artistic director David Feiner, demonstrate that the company's reputation for artistic excellence is well earned. There's striking sophistication on display at times, particularly in extraordinarily moving bits of choreography: the portrayal of a harrowing, over-packed boat trip across the Gulf of Mexico, or the gutting pas de trois among a U.S.-born boy, his detained, undocumented dad and the prison door that separates them. It's in threads like this, telling the stories of actual families being separated or living in constant terror of it, that the piece is most persuasive.
Occasional bits of fanciful satire can veer too far into glibness (as in a sequence that depicts the obstacles on the path to citizenship as a rigged game show). But whatever your stance on immigration reform, these zealous young performers make a compelling case that policy is never abstract to those living under its shadow.