Alondra Was Here

Chisa Hutchinson’s slight play benefits from Joniece Abbott-Pratt’s superb performance.

Joniece Abbott-Pratt and Lolita Foster in <i>Alondra Was Here</i>
Joniece Abbott-Pratt and Lolita Foster in Alondra Was Here
(© Anton Nickel)

A man and a woman, originally strangers, come together in a futuristic society where people mysteriously disappear. Will their love survive? Will good triumph over evil? No, you’re not reading the plot synopsis of Will Smith’s latest movie. Still, one wonders if Chisa Hutchinson’s new play, Alondra Was Here, now at The Wild Project, might fare better on the big screen.

Unquestionably CGI effects would add a touch of grandeur to a slim story that could be told on stage in far less than 95 minutes. For example, Hutchinson takes far too long in letting us know what happened on the night after street-smart Alondra (the excellent Lolita Foster) and her bookish, talkative sister Anise (Joniece Abbott-Pratt) try to get revenge on a local politician. They have dressed up like the many prostitutes he has previously picked up, and it is clear that Alondra has more in her purse than a compact.

She also draws out the budding romance between Anise and soulful loner Dusty (Rey Lucas), who first takes pity on her when she is lying in the street, bedraggled and drenched in her own urine. While it is inevitable these two will hook up, when they finally do, the result is hardly hearts and flowers. Their first kiss quickly evolves into just one more instance of simulated raw sex, fearlessly staged here by director Jade King Carroll. The relationship does turn much more tender — although Hutchinson does earn props for the unusual way Anise makes Dusty prove the depth of his feelings.

The playwright has also created a number of intriguing, mysterious interludes that take place on James Hunting’s graffiti-covered playground set. But even the particularly memorable ones — such as when three creepy grey-suited men appear as ice-cream peddlers — ultimately feel like filler.

The most compelling reason to see this uneven work, however, is Abbott-Pratt’s performance. She believably transforms Anise from a damaged if intelligent young woman to a fearless warrior who will stop at nothing to accomplish her goals. And she makes the audience care about every second of this journey. The actress generates believable chemistry with Lucas, who makes the most out of a fairly two-dimensional part.

It is likely that a day or two after seeing Alondra Was Here you might not remember much of the play. Nonetheless, I bet you won’t forget how Abbott-Pratt touched your heart.