Mehdi Massour's The Door is an experimental theatre piece exploring the overwhelming pressures of isolation and divided affections experienced by immigrants in new countries. Moreso, those experienced by non-English speaking people of colour from countries of origin with radically different cultural values. It's an emotional and thought-provoking performance that nonetheless had some deficiencies that hold it back.
Shiva Makinian and Mina Zaman portray two facets of the same (intentionally wearing identical dress and oppositely mis-matched Chuck Taylor's) Iranian woman who have travelled back and forth between their home of Tehran and their adopted home, Adelaide. (More of a local lip-service than anything, as they attempt no further description of our city.) A lurid "Enter/Exit" sign looms over their shoulder, representing their indecision over staying or going, and the two women glance fearfully at its glow regularly over the course of the performance. The performers speak in a rapid mix of English and Farsi, representative of the cultural purgatory they feel trapped within. Their visible anxiety, distress and repetition of innocuous actions reinforce the impression of alienation and mental deterioration that the woman are suffering under away from their homes. The performer's candidness and emotionality are the most affecting parts of the play, and their pleas directed towards audience members make one almost uncomfortably empathetic to their plight.
Some of the staging elements did feel weaker, however, including the score and unusual use of lighting. At times, the lights would fade before the end of the performers' speaking parts, and while this seemed to be intentionally done to reinforce the feeling of isolation in the characters, it nonetheless felt disconcerting to the audience. The electronic score, interspersed with sections of Philip Glass compositions, felt unpolished and jarring; with cacophonic organ sections presumably by Hans Zimmer's drunk cousin. Again, while this seemed intentional given the subject of the performance, the execution seemed questionable at times.
The Door is indeed highly experimental theatre, and as such, audience reactions may well be mixed based on personal preferences. But at its core the show gives a compelling insight into the experience of immigrants in a foreign land. Given the heated debate over immigration nationally and globally, the play contributes a message of understanding and empathy that could not be more important to listen to.