Box of Freedom (Play) – 2018

Dramedy
Written by: Adelina Suvagau, Steve Saunders, Sonia Suvagau

Box of Freedom is the story of Dora, a Romanian censored comedienne whose hopes at speaking her mind in a freed country vanish when former communist leaders still in positions of power threaten her life. No longer wanting to support her underground artist life as a high-class escort, she flees in a cargo ship’s container bound for Canada.

Her claustrophobic journey along with two complete strangers becomes a forced meditation that is filled with surreal hallucinations and regrets of having left her four-year-old son behind. Always relevant and never depressing, Box of Freedom is about parenthood, friendship and the very nature of freedom.

Public reviews

“Box of Freedom is a raw and passionate theatrical work, fuelled by moral outrage. Its dark humour is carried by two interwoven, parallel narratives; one features a stand-up comedienne who has escaped to Canada from an abusive, compromised life in Ceaușescu’s Romania, and the other depicts what it’s like to be smuggled with two strangers across the Atlantic Ocean in a dark, airless shipping container. The sustained central performance, by Sonia Suvagau, is courageous, and extraordinarily, surprisingly powerful.”
– Colin Browne

Andrew Chow recommends Box of Freedom:
“Just as “Waiting for Godot” was a minimalist play opened to maximum interpretation, so is “Box of Freedom” with its minimalist set and many layers of messages interwoven into a complex storyline. The plot may appear superficially to describe the journey of three people hidden inside a shipping container, smuggling into freedom, but scratch the surface and the successive layers of commentary and interpretation reveal themselves, deeper and deeper, like a box within a box. While there were only three people in the box, they all carried the ghosts of their past with them, and the audience is given a glimpse of the tortured journey of the main character, the Rooster, the voice, the conscience. Each character carried their own history and inner pain, and each revealed their character, whether stoic or exuberant, by acting out in relation to the outside world. The Dragon with passion and emotion; the Snake with hidden depths and mystery. Just as “Waiting for Godot” could be interpreted in light of political, or religious, or psychological discourse, so too “Box of Freedom.” The fall of communism in Romania decades ago, revealed the cracks in human institutions, from political to religious, revealing human nature and social institutions. “You’re all alike,” said the heroine to the political elite. Nothing more poignant in the days of chaos in America today. “Box of Freedom” is not a romantic comedy, though there are funny moments. It demands intellectual attention, and philosophical reflection. As the parting reminder says, “What good is freedom of speech, if we don’t have anything to say?” Substance over glamour. Weighty and substantial. Food for thought.”

“From a folding chair in the Studio theater we took the opportunity to watch “A Box of Freedom” at the recent Fringe Festival in Vancouver.  Full disclosure: I met Adelina Suvagau some years ago when she was preparing a documentary on the efficacy of Yoga in addictions treatment.  Some years later I met her young daughter, Sonia.  Time has a way of moving forward and talent either grows or deteriorates.  What we (yes we did bring some friends of Jimmy K along) got to witness was a bold story of revolution, escape and adolescent rebellion.  The juxtaposition of abusive and decadent memories scripted like film scenes and then coupled with the earthy reality of feces and masturbation in a cargo container created a tension that remains unresolved.  The play has a glorious earthiness that when projected on the screens of ordinary living dances the viewer seductively into the desires of freedom and the memories of bondage.  The play deserves a big screen.”
– Nick Ringma

“Box of Freedom was such a powerful play that I will be spending many days and nights thinking about this excellent performance! Frankly, it was all consuming! Very strong, very well acted, specifically Sonia, who was exceptional in Dora’s character. A few humorous lines but the rest was drama, an excellent one I may add. The mis-en-scene was successful and surprisingly clear in the script’s difficult visual moments of transition between past memories and the present.
All in all, it is a play not to be missed!”
– Lilian Broca

“Congratulations! It was an exciting nigh! I was happy to see this story, which you have been committed to Gordo long, preformed in front of a live audience!”
– Brishkay Ahmed

“It was my first time attending a live play and frankly speaking, the experience exceeded my expectations and those of my friends too. It was so real that we could not remove our eyes off the play and we did not want it to end. The most impressive part was that it was telling the story while inside the box of freedom and meanwhile also showing memories of the past. We also learned more about Romania’s history.
I do highly recommend watching this play”
– Rami Kaibni

“Fringe pick of weekend 1: Box of Freedom. Saw it yesterday, it was an absolute treat to watch the amazingly talented Sonia Suvagau and Nikki Bryce (amongst others) perform in this true story, authored by Adelina Suvagau. What refugees go through and their reasons for escape of corrupt governments are often overshadowed with what is happening to them once they’ve seeked refuge.”
– Michael Kruse-Dahl

“So proud of my dear friends Sonia Suvagau and Adelina Suvagau for putting up this incredible Fringe show! Box of Freedom is a funny and intense wild ride that tells an incredible story about group of stowaways in a cargo ship container, bound for Canada in search of freedom outside of post-communist Romania. This is one show you don’t want miss at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival!”
– Charles Heffernan

“I highly recommend this piece not only for Romanians but for every people looking for liberty and dignity. Adelina and Steave highlight in their small Box of Freedom the human endurance and hope for a better life. Sonia plays amazingly her roll very well-orchestrated by Mihnea and Nick, passing the invisible line between past and present. Congratulations to all of you for an evening to remember!”
– Daniela Diaconu Tinca

“Congrats for Box of Freedom, a real theatrical experience and historic perspective translated in human emotion. Congrats to the talented actors, Sonia, Mike and Nikki – they gracefully and skillfully remembered dark times, of oppression and injustice!”
– Carmen Padurean

“A passionate and powerful performance. We enjoyed it and we wish you good luck in the future”
– Chris Cristian Ardeleanu

“Saw the play yesterday and was very impressed! Sonja is an incredible actress. Her mother did an amazing job of directing. It was interesting talking to Steve Saunders about all the rewrites. Don’t think I could have imagined three men in the box. The two women and one man seemed to jive perfectly. I would highly recommend this play to anyone!! Well done!!”
– Barb Stevens

“We had an amazing night. I loved Sonia’s performance.❤️❤️❤️ Thank you, Adelina Suvagau for this emotional story. We should never lose hope. 🌹🌹🌹 As Christopher Reeve said: “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible”
– Cristina E Acostachioaie

“On Sunday night I was privileged to attend the opening of the play ‘BOX OF FREEDOM’, part of Vancouver FRINGE Festival. This powerful play, co written by Adelina Suvagau, moved me on many levels. Adelina, a writer and producer, offered us an insight in the human misery during the Ceausescu regime in Romania. Survival during that time included innumerable forms of degradation and personal sacrifice. Despair forced the protagonist, Dora, to flee Romania enclosed in a box on a ship traveling to a dream destination, America. Dora is played by Adelina’s   very talented actress daughter and co-writer, Sonia Suvagau. On stage for the duration of the play, Sonia took us through a multitude of emotions and engaged us in Dora’s heartbreaking life story. Dora and her two cohabitants in the BOX, Alex (Mike Doga,) and Gabriela (Nikki Brice) represent not only the desperate Romanians fleeing an egomaniac dictator, but thousands of boat people trying to escape other atrocities in the third world. Stepping out of the BOX while hallucinating, Dora returns to the past drama of her life in Romania. Every member of the cast has a story to tell; whether it is the need to survive, violence or deceit, and every story is incredibly well acted. Powerful and intense, this play took me out of my comfort zone, yet engaged me to and extent where I became part of the drama that occurred and is still occurring daily to those who risk their lives in order to be free. Yes, the play has a happy ending, but at the end that didn’t matter to me, as I became even more aware of those suffering souls who don’t experience a happy ending. Adelina‘s play is based on a true story, while the author exercised her right to make changes in order to emphasize the moral of the storey. I walked away from the play thinking that today there are some who  believe that the solution to insuring their well being is by building walls and hiding their heads in the sand. Dora made it to America, Adelina tells us.  Responsible citizens of the world helped her build a new life with all the advantages freedom offers. Thank you, Adelina Suvagau for emphasizing the meaning of freedom, in this very powerful play.
For those who didn’t see it yet, don’t miss out.”
– Aimée Gabor

Adelina, Sonia and the entire cast and behind the scenes talented hard working individuals… A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS for the BOX OF FREEDOM!!!🎉🍾 THANK YOU for creating this emotional rollercoaster, superbly acted, creative story, play! BRAVO🤗😘💐🌺🌻