Review: Village, My Home at the Community Theater

VillageMediumVillage, My Home Review: In The Chaos of New York City, Is This A Village We Can Search Our Home?

By Irene Hernandez

A sepia shaded, vintage silent film of tree roots, on a constant loop, is projected on a small screen above a simple set of a small stoop of stairs begins the 40 minute journey of Marcina Zaccaria’s Village, My Home at the Community Theater  at Theater For The New City for the Dream Up Festival in the East Village.

The silence and roots will elude the various characters cluttering the stage, especially the lead character, played by Frances McGarry. The sassy redhead’s claim of brilliance, beauty and basically knowing all is less self-confidence and more arrogant combativeness. Indeed, most of the characters in various vignettes in this production have an urgent need to be heard and yet aren’t paying much attention to those around them in a similar plight.

In other words, these characters are New Yorkers.

The archetypical characters, portrayed by an energetic ensemble, are the types of people you would come across on a subway platform or Union Square. The unnamed characters span generations and language but have a common strand: they all look outside themselves for meaning, identity, and a sense of home, filling the spaces in their lives with constant movement and sound to attempt avoiding their dissatisfaction.

One element of the show is how our digital era – fax machines, email, printers – can add to our frustration, while the use of laptops and cell phones – to text, or take pictures or video – detaches us from living in the moment and our sense of community and connection.

Consistently projected on the small screen is the statement: I built my home. Have these contemporary New Yorkers built a home or a prison of chronic dissatisfaction?

Offering perspective throughout the play is a Greek Chorus of mature hippies, played by Marjorie Conn, Madalyn McKay and Maile Souza. This elegant trio of actresses introduced rhythm, music and dance, suggesting that simplicity, creating with your body and building something from the ground up with those you care for, your village, can be the closest we get to building a home, even if it falls apart. This idea is easily relatable in our current times.

Special mention to Lindsay Shields for her varied video work that subtly underlined the story elements in the play’s opening and transitions as well as Maria Ortiz Proveda’s costume design, with the refreshing inclusion of Greek puppetry.  I  don’t think I’ll forget the giant puppet head of Sadaam Hussein anytime soon.

With so many themes and interesting elements within 40 minutes of the production, I’m curious if Zaccaria’s intent is to keep the show as a short flow of ideas or to expand and organize the hustle and bustle rhythms and refreshing earthy elements into a full length play. Either way, Marcina Zaccaria’s Village, My Home will make you consider to slow down and rethink what home really is.

Irene Hernandez is an actor, playwright, director, producer, singer, songwriter, designing artisan, poet, art model, teaching artist and artistic director of Dancing Frog Theater Company.

Where: Theater for the New City on 155 First Avenue

Friday, September 1 at 9PM
Saturday, September 2 at 2PM
Sunday, September 3 at 8PM

Tickets are available at SmartTix.