Reviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

In one of the most riveting dramas at The Hollywood Fringe Festival this year, Occupation stands out as a powerful dystopian, speculative fiction projecting a ‘far too close to being real’ future of American society.

In some respects, Occupation seems to reference Canadian author Margret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, which echoed parts of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, in a series of connected stories, in which here, because of a terrorist attack, a totalitarian dictatorship forms within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America. Under the pretext of restoring order and safety for all citizens, which coincidentally includes building a wall around us to keep the enemy out (and citizens from leaving) the new regime called The Patriots, has reorganized society along a new militarized hierarchy. Freedoms and liberties have been taken away and anyone who disagrees or is reported to the authorities for suspicious activity, anything from loitering or looking strange, just disappears. Of course the ones to suffer most are women who are relegated to the least meaningful roles in society.

Like Atwood’s book, the story is told from a female point of view, five women on all sides of the issue with the interjection of a fool/foil tap dance girl caught somewhere in the middle of confusion and betrayal, isolated and struggling to find meaning in any part of it.

The threads run the gamut of women who have lost not only their rights but in some cases, who have lost their daughters to a freedom fighters network of young women who become suicide bombers. Each relates an interconnected story asking the question, ‘Who is the real enemy?’

Occupation looks for clarity, power and salvation within the gray area of fear, nationalism, and government control. It is a dynamic, chilling and also heartbreaking reflection of today’s political zeitgeist.

Excellent performances by all.

Very Highly Recommended.