Review: Who Am I? ‘Panorama’ Says There Is No Easy Answer

We are taught from childhood, if we’re lucky, that individuals are never merely the sum of their biological and sociological parts. But I have rarely seen a warmer or more engaging example of this defiance of statistics than “Panorama,” which was devised and directed by the Italian theater artists Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Nicolò in collaboration with members of the Great Jones Repertory Company. (The show is presented as part of the Under the Radar festival, and continues beyond it until Jan. 21.)

Motus (“Alexis: A Greek Tragedy,” “MDLSX”) specializes in what might be called enlightening confusion, blurring our perceptions to improve our vision. The casts of their genre-bending shows are usually small, yet you always leave a Motus production feeling you have spent time amid an ever-multiplying throng. Everybody on stage contains multitudes.

“Panorama,” which is performed mostly in English, is unusually accessible by Motus standards. Anyone who knows the classic American musical “A Chorus Line” will be familiar with the conceptual shape of this show.

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Members of the multinational cast of “Panorama,” including Perry Yung, share personal stories as well as those by theater artists whose backgrounds are quite different.

Credit
Emon Hassan for The New York Times

What we’re watching is an audition process that asks more of its applicants than the usual song and dance. The first question posed of the performers being interviewed, before a video camera, is that aforementioned conundrum “Who are you?”

“Who I am is the question I ask myself, often, every time I look in a mirror” goes one response. And “Panorama” turns into one big, double-sided looking glass that keeps reflecting them (on the stage) and us (in the audience), until the mirror cracks.

The performers we encounter in the flesh are Maura Nguyen Donahue, John…

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