Other Than We

Is this a cli-fi thriller or an experimental monster?

By Andrew Andrews

Eve (Emily Fury Daly) gives birth as Opa (George Bartenieff), Tenaka (Tommie J. Moore) and Michelle (Lisa Birnbaum) assist in Theater Three Collaborative’s Other Than We at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. Original photo by Beatriz Schiller.

In a dystopian future, civilization has been divided into those that live under a protective dome, and those relegated or exiled to the outside world and its temperamental climate.

Believing that mankind has lost its ability to empathize, scientists Eve and Michelle have decided to create a new, genetically-modified race of semi-humans, carefully giving them the attributes needed to survive after homo sapiens achieves self-extinction.

Part science-fiction, part experimental theatre, Other Than We follows the trials and tribulations of the couple, their mysterious co-conspirator Tenaka, and Eve’s dissident grandfather Opa, as they play god under the watchful eye of disapproving powers-that-be.

Every time I watch a play by Shakespeare, I have difficulty following the first few scenes, as I acclimate to the rhythm and dialect of the speakers.

Similarly, I struggled with the rather cryptic, patterned dialog at the beginning of this performance. I felt as though I’d found the answer to the question, "What would the Bard’s work be like if he was writing today, and obsessed with a dystopian future instead of the lives of royals and nobles?"

The play gradually became less experimental as the plot thickened, and I was able to follow along. My interest grew as the performance morphed into a low-budget, sci-fi thriller with a minimalist set.

The last scene unexpectedly becomes the most experimental part of the entire show, with an emphasis on costume, lighting and mythology that was otherwise absent from the production.

In the hands of Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, this story could easily become a great saga, along the lines of Lord of the Rings or Planet of the Apes.

As it stands, the script could use a bit of thinning out. More importantly, a decision should be made to abandon the half-hearted attempt at being avant garde.

By focusing on its strong and accessible science-fiction core, Other Than We could be made into a high-budget blockbuster movie that people would obsess over for generations to come.


Andrew Andrews attended Other Than We at La MaMa Downstairs in Manhattan on Thursday, November 21, 2019 @ 7:00pm to write this review.