The Hope Hypothesis

Is there any hope for immigrants from countries associated with terrorism?

By Andrew Andrews

An immigration office supervisor (Connor Carew) is threatened by an FBI agent (Greg Brostrom) in Voyage Theater Company’s production of Cat Miller’s The Hope Hypothesis at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture. Original photo by Beowulf Sheenan.

During a routine visit to the immigration office, Syrian-born law student Amena is held for interrogation after presenting her birth certificate, which was issued by ISIS during their occupation of her hometown.

Forbidden from contacting a lawyer or anyone else, Amena is finally joined by her boyfriend, Brendan, when he shows up to find out why she never returned home.

He, too, is refused access to an attorney, and the situation turns from bad to worse when the authorities turn Brendan against Amena by convincing him she was unfaithful, using a photograph of her kissing another man.

A lot of technical effort has gone into this production. From the set, with its reconfigurable walls that support rapid yet potent changes of scene, to the high-impact lighting and sound effects, it seems that no expense was spared in making this a first-class show.

The story itself is billed as a dark comedy, but it felt more like a full-on tragedy to me. The comic elements just seemed a bit too weak most of the time, becoming preposterous just before the climax. Otherwise, the script was quite polished, and I would have enjoyed the performance more if the humor had been limited to sparsely-sprinkled comic relief.

Overall, the acting was very good from this seven-member cast. Although Wesley Zurick did a great job in his role as the Teller, he didn’t quite look the part as much as his collaborators. And though some of the subtle details were extremely unlikely, this was easy to forgive for the sake of the story.

Philosophically, The Hope Hypothesis makes important statements about bureaucracy, human rights and faith in The System, and Voyage Theater Company’s delivery is as professional as it gets. For that, I’m willing to overlook a few minor imperfections and call this production a success.


Andrew Andrews attended The Hope Hypothesis at Sheen Center Black Box Theater in Manhattan on Sunday, October 27, 2019 @ 3:00pm to write this review.