Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fringe Festival 2012: Silence

Day: 4

Show: 14

Title: Silence

By: Yellow Bird Productions

Written by: Jay'd Hagberg

Location: Rarig Proscenium

Summary: A traditional musical with an interesting twist that I've never before seen on stage. It's your typical boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl story. But the twist is that the girl is deaf, while the boy is not. The cast is a combination of deaf and hearing, and every character has an interpreter, either to sign or to speak for them. Abby is an aspiring dancer, Mark an aspiring musician, and they find a connection despite their differences.

Highlights: The music is great in a pop/musical theater sort of way, the dancing is lovely, the large cast is talented in singing, acting, and signing, but the beautiful thing about this piece is that it'll make you rethink what music is. It's not just something that you hear (the composer, Jay'd Hagberg, and several members of the cast are deaf). It's also something that you feel, both physically in your body (think heavy drumbeats or bass), and also somewhere deeper, in your spirit or soul. That's what comes through so powerfully in the story of Abby, a young deaf woman who defies the odds to become a dancer, and falls in love with Mark, who is not deaf nor does he know ASL. Canae Weiss, who plays Abby, is also deaf, and is a beautiful and expressive dancer and actor. When Abby "sings" a song, she expresses the song through her face, body, and signs, while an interpreter sings the words. It's a device that works really well. What doesn't work as well is the ending; it felt a little too easy, a little too rushed (at about 40 minutes, this was one of the shorter shows I've seen). We only saw the beginning and end of Abby and Mark's relationship, but not much of the middle. I hope the creators and cast continue to work on the piece and flesh out the middle of the story. This is a great seed of what could be a really lovely and powerful piece of theater, and I look forward to seeing it.

Read more of my fringe fest reflections...

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