Fringe review: She Has a Name inspired by true story

What: She Has a Name

Where: Wood Hall, Victoria Conservatory of Music, 907 Pandora Ave.

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When: Aug. 26, 27, Sept. 2

Rating: 3 stars (out of five) 

Despite fundamental flaws, She Has a Name has its heart in the right place. 

This 90-minute drama is inspired by a true human trafficking incident: the 2008 discovery of a storage locker in Thailand containing Burmese workers, half of them suffocated to death. 

She Has a Name is the story of an American lawyer, Jason, who goes undercover to investigate human trafficking in Bangkok brothels. He meets a 15-year-old prostitute known only as “Number 18”.  The soul-crushing depravity and hopelessness of the situation eventually causes Jason to unhinge. He finds himself resorting to the base violence favoured by the bad guys.

Andrew Kooman’s play aspires to moral complexity. This is admirable, since single-minded didacticism is the coffin nail in political theatre. Unfortunately, She Has a Name is plagued by melodramatic — and just plain bad — cop-show dialogue. 

He: “Just cut the perverts’ balls off and shove them down their throats.” She: “No… justice doesn’t work that way.” Hmmm.

Kooman’s decision to introduce a Greek chorus of mysterious hooded figures who waft around chattering about angels doesn’t help. Neither do the implausible plot twists. That said, some of the main characters — including Evelyn Chew as the prostitute and Carl Kennedy as Jason — have their moments.

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