BY JESSICA MENDOZA, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
To what degree are our lives impacted by money or thoughts of money? Is there a point where we begin to lose who we are by participating in a capitalist system? The play “Almost Equal To,” showcased at the Pillsbury House Theater, makes its audience consider the answers to such questions. The play has diverse perspectives and thought-provoking characters incorporated into its scenes. Audience members may not have the easiest time understanding every detail of the play, but its message is an important one.
The Pillsbury House Theater is a unique establishment in the Twin Cities because it offers community engagement programs, new work by emerging artists and a “pick your price” option in which customers can choose to pay what they can afford for a ticket. The theater was welcoming and the actors were passionate. Wednesdays are even more engaging because audience members can ask questions about the play after the performance. While I had never visited the theater before this play, I was glad to have had the opportunity to come as part of a requirement for my theater class.
The play began by exploring the notion that individuals actively seek value in how we spend our time and money. In a world that is constantly demanding our attention and energy, it can be frustrating to find that our time has been wasted. By acknowledging this concept, the audience was put to ease knowing the actors would be doing their best to ensure our time was made worthwhile.
One of the first characters is Andre, a man who spends every waking hour trying not to become obsessed with money. Andre has trouble finding a job even after he has taken the initiative to take night courses at a college, courses which makes him disillusioned.
Each character in the play struggles to achieve their goals in a system that requires we adhere to our capitalist tendency. A homeless man named Peter tries to receive help from strangers in order to buy a ticket to see his injured sister. Martina dreams of running her own self-sustainable farm, but she becomes impatient with the restrictions her job places on her. Mani faces self doubt in almost every aspect of his life, and Freja is desperate and concerned after losing her job. All of the characters in the play relate to each other because they each feel societal pressures to succeed at all costs.
The play uses real, absurd and heartbreaking moments to show that each person is impacted in some way by our winner-take-all system. Overall, “Almost Equal To” does a powerful job of making its audience consider themselves in our capitalist system and what they are doing to avoid becoming someone they don’t recognize anymore.
This article first appeared in the Friday, October 6, 2017, Edition of The Echo.