Monday, August 1, 2016

Small Mouth Sounds @ The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre @ Pershing Square Signature Center

In musicals, we sing because words cannot express how we feel, and when singing fails us our body takes over and we dance. What people fail to realize is that the most powerful thing we can do is be silent. (Kind of odd an odd statement since our world is a scary violent place right now.) Small Mouth Sounds brings everyone in the audience back to neutral. It’s a therapeutic retreat that none of us signed up for, yet you feel like a part of the show, and end up questioning your own self.  

The space is bare, except for six chairs. The only music you here is coming from pure nature, raindrops, rustling of the bushes, and a casual audience member. As we anticipate how this show is going to start, Max Baker (Jan) enters and simply sits. We watch him for what feels like an eternity just sit there. Yet I couldn’t look away. Slowly but sure we see the rest of the cast file in, and get just enough exposition to learn what is going on before we go on the journey of, silence.

This show has an incredible team of actors. Marcia DeBonis (Joan) gives a heart breaking yet hopeful performance. She manages finding the light even in the darkest times and you can’t help but smile along with her. Opposite DeBonis, we have, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, who somehow made me feel like I was listening to her talking. The way you watch her body transform from beginning to end is unbelievable. She took me on a journey I was not prepared for, and it was breathtaking. Every show needs a consistent heartbeat and Max Baker did exactly that. He only says about five words total the entire show, but they are the most powerful. Watching Mr. Baker on stage made me feel comfortable and warm and all I wanted to do was hug him. He was the heart of the show. Every show needs a little comedy, and Babak Tafti (Rodney) fulfills that playing a true yogi. He perfects the physical comedy, and talk about great comedic timing, which is even more impressive, because they are silent! Matching his comedic chops we have, Zoe Winters (Alicia). She plays a woman who clearly on the verge of a breakdown, might be a little snobby, yet you can’t NOT root for her. And lastly, rounding out the cast, Brad Heberlee (Ned).  Herberlee is the only actor on stage that gets a full monologue. And IT BLOWS YOUR MIND! He has such ease to his performance; you almost feel you are intruding in his personal space. From his comedic moments, to his deep secrets, you can’t take your eyes off him.

It’s fascinating when you lose the power of speech, how every movement you make tells a story. How you sit, stand, even sleep.  We also see how much noise we can actually make by not making any. Small Mouth Sounds was truly a beautiful piece of theatre. It was refreshing, inspiring, and even spiritual. Thank you Small Mouth Sounds. You have changed me.

Review By: Briana Burnside
Photos By: Sara Krulwich

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