Lidless: Gitmo Comes Home

Let's discuss my liver: Danielle Skraastad and Laith Nakli
Richard Termine

Fifteen years ago, Alice (Danielle Skraastad) served as an interrogator at Guantanamo. Yet she doesn't suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Likely because her trauma isn't past.

Set in Minnesota in the near future, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Lidless, produced by Page 73, presents Alice as a wife, a mother, and a florist with a talent for growing hybrid roses. But her carefully cultivated life overturns when Bashir (Laith Nakli), a former detainee, arrives. He contracted hepatitis while imprisoned. Now dying, he wants a piece of Alice. Specifically, her liver.

Well-received at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (where Europeans love to see Americans excoriate themselves), Lidless consists of brisk, penetrating scenes and brutal emotional content. There's something of a thematic pile-on (torture, memory, illness, friendship, sexuality, justice, inheritance), and many of the metaphors—verbal and visual—are rendered with all the understatement of those orange Gitmo jumpsuits. Yet Cowhig writes compellingly, and the cast (particularly the ever-strong Skraastad) performs faithfully. Director Tea Alagic, who debuted Tarell Alvin McCraney's The Brothers Size, knows how to invest even ordinary speech with the force of ritual.


By Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig
46 Walker Street

But in the last half an hour, the improbabilities accumulate, and the direction becomes increasingly heavy-handed. The resolution strains belief. Lidless never tortures its audience, but does abuse our good faith.

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