BWW Review: SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS Resounds Through Houston
Earlier this month, Stark Naked Theatre Company opened its fifth season to positive reviews with its regional premiere of SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS, Bess Wohl's new comedy about between six strangers who meet at a silent yoga retreat.
I kept hearing about the new play Stark Naked was doing, and finally got the chance to see what it was all about. I am glad that I did. I saw this unique and moving play last Friday, which runs for one more weekend at Studio 101.
I am my own worst enemy, as is the case for most. Each day, I battle my past, weaknesses, and fears. I try to find peace. I find love in my family. I hold on to hope, and like most others, work hard to stay afloat. As each of us seeks to carve our own path, we yearn to connect with someone that understands us. This is why SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS resonates with audiences, and why presenting it with very little sound is relevant in today's fast-paced and technologically connected society, where silence and real human connection are scarce.
SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS is a well-told and finely written play that entertains and brings us to question our own flaws, emotional wounds, and relationships. Kim Tobin-Lehl and the cast and crew at Stark Naked successfully bring Bess Wohl's play to life on the stage at Studio 101 in Houston, TX.
The result is an engaging story that builds upon the relationships of six well-constructed and portrayed characters. The story is told through mostly silent interactions of these strangers and their experiences on a silent retreat, led by a yoga teacher. The ensemble of characters is just as unique as the story they tell together. Each character slowly unfolds pieces of their lives before our eyes and carries us along each character's ride to catharsis.
Judy (Kim Tobin-Lehl) and Joan (Pamela Vogel) enter the stage in a complicated relationship, further muddled by the emotional strain brought on by Judy's illness. Kim Tobin-Lehl finds love and comedy during the most serious and dramatic moments, allowing her to fully flesh out her character, and bringing us to laughter in the midst of scenes such as Jan (Kregg Dailey) revealing his traumatic past and the later breakdown of Rodney (Nick Farco). Pamela Vogel embodies guilt as Joan, opposite Tobin-Lehl, and you can feel the guilt right along with her as the story unfolds. Kregg Dailey plays Jan, a towering man who wears a child's backpack and a smile wherever he goes. He's got a lot of love to give, but, like the other characters, is plagued by loss which comes to a head during an emotional closing scene. Alicia (Amy Garner Buchanan) is recovering from a past relationship gone awry for reasons unknown to us. She is always late, reverts to eating chips when distressed, and like Rodney (Nick Farco) has a problem giving into temptation. Jeff Miller's performance as Ned was unforgettable. His stage presence naturally commanded our attention, especially during his monologue where he reveals his past and current state of mind, yet fails to complete the task at hand.
The stage was adorned with natural colors, wood, bamboo, and green. The lighting moved us from blues, to day, to night, and room to room. Overhead, throughout the show, we heard the teacher of the retreat. He let the characters and the audience know that no matter how alone you feel, you are not alone. Starry night backdrops and effective moonlight projections welcomed us in the world of these six characters. Through the silence of the performance, as it came to a close, the audience applauded, not a silent being in the house. We were left with a sense of hope. And hope is what gets many of us through the day. That, along with a consummate cast and the consistent production quality of Stark Naked, is what makes this regional premiere of SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS enduring and a must-see show in Houston.
SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS is directed by Kim Tobin-Lehl and stars Kim Tobin-Lehl, Pamela Vogel, Kregg Dailey, Nick Farco, Amy Garner-Buchanan, and Jeff Miller. The show runs September 11th - September 26th, 2015.
Performances are held at Stark Naked's STUDIO 101, located at Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street, Houston, Texas, 77007.
Regular show times are Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 3:00 pm.
Individual tickets (priced at $29 for adults, $23 for seniors and $15 for students) as well as $49 reserved Gold Seat tickets are available for all performances. Please visit the theatre's website at www.starknakedtheatre.com or by phone at 832.866.6514.