NYC Theater Review: ‘Panorama’ at La MaMa

Maura Nguyen Donohue in Panorama. Photo by Theo Cote

Panorama is a world premiere play from Italian duo Motus showing at La MaMa (66 East 4th Street) as part of The Public’s Under the Radar Festival until January 21.

Though the description for the show is a bit dense–“proposing a post-nationalistic identity for all the populations of the world, focusing on the concept of fluid identity and nomad identity”–the play itself is actually an intimate look at the lives of the artists who make up La MaMa’s Great Jones Repertory Company.

Sure it plays out in unique ways with shifting identities and the help of some expertly executed projections, life-feeds, and other technological boosts. But in the end, it’s about people. An inordinately human play about belonging and not belonging, about morals and identity, about taking a stand, about becoming an artist, about moving, about the emotional toll of today’s political climate.

Perry Yung in Panorama. Photo by Theo Cote

The play is based on interviews done with the actors, a refreshingly diverse group. Maura Nguyen Donahue, for example, who reveals in the course of the play that she added Nguyen so people would know she was Vietnamese, only to find out that her family’s surname was actually Tran (her mom purchased papers). There’s a wonderful camaraderie between the actors that bleeds through even beyond the lines.

There are some odd moments, some jarring notes, some nudity (this is after all, experimental theater, what do you expect), some delightful one-liners, and a whole boatload of honesty.

Panorama is playing at La MaMa, The Downstairs at 66 East 4th St. until January 21, 2018. Tickets $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors. Run time: 80 minutes.

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About Lily

East Coast Chinese American. I like thick-skinned dumplings and hard-covered books.
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