BWW Review: SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS at The Jungle Theater Says A Lot
*breath in* *fingers tapping on the keyboard while I figure out how to start this review*
There's something very unique happening at The Jungle Theater. In the play Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl, barely a word is said onstage during the show. Though much is said from the characters. Sitting in (mostly) silence in the audience while watching mostly silence on stage was a really interesting experience, because it made the play feel more intimate. The characters, whose lives I was watching onstage, and I were in the same state. For that alone, I urge you to see this show.
However, it's be a crime to say that Small Mouth Sounds is just silence. In fact, through its silence, it's loud. The play takes place at a silent spiritual retreat and follows six people as they struggle to find themselves.
There is a guiding figure in the play, of course, in the form a teacher. We never see them, only hear them. And through voice alone, breaking the silence, the teacher (played brilliantly by Jay Owen Eisenberg) offers the idea that silence is a vacation from yourself. Our characters don't get that, however, as we watch things such as; a couple taking a break and rekindling their feelings, a guy with memory loss struggle with why he exists, and a woman who is so caught up in the phone she should've put away this trip. It becomes clear that silence isn't a vacation from one's self, but silence (and, dare I say, the small sounds we make) lets you explore yourself deeper.
Small Mouth Sounds is a triumph in character development. Small Mouth Sounds is a triumph in general. But characters are what stands out to me. I cannot begin to think of the work the actors put into these characters, with the help of their amazing director Lauren Keating, to make us fall in love with these characters in just a few sounds. I give a brava to these actors and they are definitely ones to follow.
The set, by Mina Kinukawa, is simple and fits this story well and the lighting by, Karin Olson, really puts you at the retreat. And the sound design. Oh, the glorious sound design by Reid Rejsa. You'd think that there wouldn't be much sound design from a play that centers around silence, but I'd argue that in this case, sound design is far more important than originally realized. It was so telling in ways I hadn't realized sound design could be.
*clearing the throat*
Small Mouth Sounds is wonderful. If you need to sit in silence (or mostly silence, as a theater audience is never fully silent these days) and have a break, this is the play to go see. I not only reflected upon the story, but with myself. After the show, I was able to relate to some wonderful characters and use them to look inside of me. And how even the littlest sounds reflect who I am in a big way.
*breath in and out*