I don’t like to subscribe to the hype of something that people describe as mind-blowing or daring, for no other reason than I am always disappointed. I look forward to a nitty-gritty piece of art that hasn’t been done before and I end up with something so overdone that it borders on the ridiculous. Well, not this time, no sir.
America may be hard to see but thank goodness the play wasn’t. What a powerful, compelling and unexpected piece of theatre that truly charters territory that makes other people nervous. A play about a community of planned sex-offenders, who actually exist and who you’ve met, spoken to and witnessed in the flesh? Simply genius.
America Is Hard To See takes the true stories of real sex offenders living in Miracle Village, (a planned sex offender community) Florida and brings them to the stage in a way that blurs the lines between who deserves to be isolated away from society forever and who deserves forgiveness.
By the second half you find yourself feeling sorry for these men; men who have taken advantage of the young and innocent, which in itself is sickening and wrong, but these people aren’t going to be isolated forever, so when does forgiveness become an option for these men who claim to have denounced all the sick from their lives?
The play poses this uncomfortable question to the audience, putting them on trial and forcing them to question their own trepidation. We all know sex offenders get it the worst as far as criminals go; before a person is even proved guilty, they are guilty in the eyes of “the wolf”, and from then on their life becomes nothing more than 72, judge sanctioned rules.
There were people in Miracle Village that didn’t deserve to be there; there, I said it. The crimes of sex offenders in my opinion should not be accountable to a generic law but to each individual case and circumstance. You rape a child, jail. You have sex with your girlfriend who told you she was 18 but turns out she lied and is actually 14, well…erm, not quite sure how I feel about that one. All I know is that a man’s life was ruined because of that exact situation; he was put with men who have done terrible, unforgivable things and been isolated in the same way that he probably felt like one of them.
During the show, one of the many amazingly talented actors that graced the stage of the Underbelly said something along the lines of: you’re not supposed to know how to feel after watching this. She was right. I don’t know how to feel after watching a show that made me sympathise for the tedious, isolated life of a child molester. I don’t know how to feel about the fact that most of the world supports a justice system that allows no room for subjectivity and makes more criminals than they deter.
All I do know is what I saw on stage was art in the most original sense of the word, something that makes you think and question, that starts a conversation so’s not to be mistaken as a pretty decoration on the backdrop of life.
Whichever member of the Life Jacket Theatre company woke up one day and said, “Hey, I want to make a play about a planned sex offender community and make audiences all around the world feel uncomfortable,” thank you.
America is Hard To See is playing at Underbelly Cowgate @ 19:45 daily. Be apart of the 99% and experience uncomfortable, excellence first-hand.