Florida Repertory Theatre Education’s production of REFUGEE, adapted by Eric Coble from Alan Gratz’s New York Times bestselling novel and directed by Kody C. Jones, shines a light on the refugee experience from the perspective of three different young people in three different places and times.
The cast of REFUGEE consisted of Jake Berne as Josef, Patrick Mounce as Man, Mikey Reichert as Mahmoud, Genevieve Tankosich as Woman, Sydney Torres as Isabel, and Tova Volcheck as Young Woman. The three main characters in the story were Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud. Josef’s storyline began in Germany in 1939, Isabel’s in Cuba in 1994, and Mahmoud’s in Syria in 2015. Though each character was escaping a different instance of violence–the holocaust, Castro’s regime, and the civil war–their experiences were very similar, and I believe the reality that these experiences and situations like them are still occurring in our current world will have a strong impact on every single audience member, whether young or old.
Each cast member of REFUGEE gave a very strong and passionate performance, and I thought they all worked extremely well together, which is crucial for a show that has many different detailed moments and scene changes. They all supported one another beautifully and showed the emotional strength and vulnerability this show needs through their characters.
I was incredibly impressed with the way the show flowed. As Berne, Reichert, and Torres would come on and go off stage, representing the scene changing, Mounce, Tankosich, and Volcheck would switch between many different characters. Their character switches were represented by different costume pieces being added, removed, or changed; from putting on different hats to the unbuttoning and rebuttoning of a shirt, these details were very clever on Costume Designer Jacquelyn Loy’s part and they helped the audience understand the character switch.
REFUGEE will be touring around to many Southwest Florida schools this year, and I believe this beautiful, poignant show will be a very important production that helps many young people understand compassion and empathy for people of all walks of life. If you’re interested in having REFUGEE or another Florida Repertory Theatre Education production at your school, call 239-332-4665 x 1552.
Photo Credit: Joe Dafeldecker