Theatre can move you, it can engage you; sometimes, you can even get dragged up onstage. And then there is a show like Out of the Box Productions‘ Sound in Silence, which literally feels like a full-body theatre experience.
This multidisciplinary show (dance, singing, poetry, live music, video – it’s all here!) takes the audience quite literally inside the brain of a deaf person. Gauzy sheets of fabric create a hazy grey-matter effect in the house. The circular setting and the swivel sets in the Theatre Centre’s space means that the audience moves with the performance as sound and images come at you from all directions. Stimulation comes from everywhere, much like it would for a deaf person hearing sound for the first time. I enjoyed Sound in Silence‘s approach; my show partner, Pat, didn’t. (She kept batting her hand throughout the show as though a fly was buzzing in her ear. Point achieved, I say!)
Dancer Jung-Ah Chung was the highlight of the show, making impressive use of the small central space and powerfully interpreting the emotions of living with hearing loss. Pat agreed, saying Chung was “gorgeous.” I also enjoyed Joe Bucci, as her adolescent love interest.
The performance itself was a sparse 45 minutes, shorter than most Fringe productions. But it’s a full 45 minutes, taking us from Chung’s birth through school, and her first romantic relationship as a teenager.
My only real issue was that the play was billed as a dancer’s journey through deafness, and it didn’t seem to deliver on that. What it delivered was fine, but instead of a deaf woman expressing the challenges of interpreting rhythm and dance, it was a woman who expressed the challenges of being deaf and then also happened to occasionally burst into dance. The connection between the two wasn’t as strong as I hoped, especially when I read in the program that the show’s creator, Gwen Dobie, is a deaf dancer herself.
With a limited run, the show is now past (I know, we tease. Sorry.) But with the company’s unique multidisciplinary take and attention to informative storytelling, I would definitely recommend keeping the name Out of the Box Productions on your radar.
Out of the Box Productions
Photo credit: Out of the Box