A theatre piece about human trafficking?
She has a name isn’t exactly about a light hearted subject. But Burnt Thicket Theatre is doing a Canadian Tour and has stopped in Calgary to be part of the Fringe Festival.
This play is unlike a lot of the other shows in the Calgary Fringe Festival in that it is a full scale production.
It tells of a brothel in Bangkok that Jason (Carl Kennedy) is visiting as an undercover agent for a non-profit that is trying to build a case against the pimp running the brothel. He meets Number 18 (Evelyn Chew) whom he hopes will trust him with information and to eventually testify. When Jason isn’t posing as a john, he’s worrying about his relationship with his wife Ali (Alysa can Haastert) back home in Canada, or talking with his supervisor Marta (Glenda Warkentin). He gains Number 18’s trust and devises a plot to save her. This plan doesn’t work because the boss of the brothel (Sienna Howell-Holden) finds out and derails everything. It’s at this point that the audience is confronted with the corruption and roadblocks in a country where there are laws in place, but they don’t protect the victims. The complexity of Asian sex trafficking and bringing about justice comes out loud and clear.
She has a name features an interesting theatre device, in that the story is followed by three hooded women. They sing and echo what the characters are feeling and build on the drama. This device is a little too much, and the dialogue they deliver is pathos that winds up being bathos. But had these women not been there there would have been a void in the play and they very clearly fill the gaps in the drama. It would have been more effective if the play could just rest on the story unfolding on stage.
The play is backed by strong performances, but the writing could use some work, especially the dialogue between Jason and his supervisor. The most poignant aspect of She has a name is how it opens your eyes to what’s going on within human trafficking. Hopefully it will spur us to investigate further.
She has a name runs two more times. Tickets available here.
Photo Credit: Kelsey Krogman