Thursday, September 08, 2016

Small Mouth Sounds

Six people assemble for a spiritual retreat with varying levels of comfort and enthusiasm: an ultra-limber, ultra-sexy yoga instructor; a lesbian couple, affectionate but annoyed with each other; a quietly friendly older man; a sad-sack white guy whose multi-colored skullcap seems to be covering a secret; and a blonde who is far more interested in texting her recently ex-boyfriend than achieving spiritual growth. They are spoken to by a loopy, self-important, unseen guru, who explains the rules of the retreat (many of which will be broken), talks about the philosophy of their time together, and announces that there will be no talking.

Zoƫ Winters, Max Baker, Quincy Tyler Bernstine,
Babak Tafti, Brad Heberlee, and Marcia DeBonis
Photo: Ben Arons Photography

By largely eliminating dialogue from the play, author Bess Wohl and director Rachel Chavkin have set themselves a fascinating challenge, one that they meet with intelligence, compassion, and humor. They give us three-dimensional people full of foibles and strengths and a gentle sorta-plot that fills the two hours beautifully. The cast is strong--Marcia DeBonis, Brad Heberlee, Babak Tafti, Max Baker, Quincy Tyler Bernstine--and the projections (Andrew Schneider) and soundscape (Stowe Nelson) effectively and attractively conjure up the idea of being in the woods.

I don't want to say more, since the delight of the play is watching it unfold in small, wonderful moments. It's running until October 9. I highly recommend it. (My colleague Elizabeth Wollman was somewhat less enthused.)

PS. It has the funniest nude scene I've ever witnessed.

Wendy Caster
(second row, tdf tickets)

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