Review: SILENT SKY at Theatre In The Round

Running thru March 17, 2023

By: Mar. 02, 2024
Review: SILENT SKY at Theatre In The Round
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Review: SILENT SKY at Theatre In The Round

If you have ever reveled at images of the night sky, far-off star clusters, and almost impossibly far away galaxies, you can thank the subject of Theatre in the Round’s latest production.

Based on the true life of Henrietta Leaviit, Silent Sky, tells the story of a woman who aspires to be more than just a bride. She dreams of being an astronomer and charting her own path through a world that is dominated by men.

When Henrietta is presented with an opportunity to join the Harvard College Observatory, she leaves home and can’t wait to start her journey of discovery. Although she has large aspirations, she is quickly informed that she is merely on staff to study slides and compute the results for the heads of the department. Not finding satisfaction with this task, she begins to look for her own discoveries within the slides. What she finds is not only history making but it also changes the field of astronomy forever.

While Henrietta’s discoveries were groundbreaking, most people have never heard of her and the work that she did. As was the way of the world in the early 1900s, it was a world dominated by men who took credit for the work of the women they employed.

Silent Sky aims (and succeeds) to shine a light on those women and the contributions that they provided to the world. Played with such fervor and heart, Henrietta and her two cohorts: Annia and Wiiliamina are vibrantly brought to life by three incredibly talented actresses (Eva Gemlo, Rachel Postle, and Wini Froelich respectively).

Bringing a true story to the stage can prove to be quite a feat. Primarily because day-to-day activities can be boring and mundane, not the ideal events to drive a theatrical production forward but Silent Sky is anything but boring or mundane.

By staging this play in the round the audience is given the opportunity to be a fly on the wall. Sometimes making the audience feel like we are simply eavesdropping in on the characters’ lives as they share their most personal thoughts, actions, and feelings.

Shedding light (literally) on the story, Peter W. Mitchell has designed a beautiful light show to accompany the text. Utilizing a variety of lighting techniques, the audience is transported multiple times from the dusty offices of the computing team, to the furthest reaches of space, to the humble home of Henrietta’s father. Mitchell’s greatest work is on display at the end of the production when paired with the emotional closing monologue from Lauren Gunderson’s script.

This is a production that begs to be seen in an intimate venue, even though it deals with the vastness of space. Filled with wit, heart, and even heartbreak, Silent Sky is a gorgeous piece of theater that not only entertains but provides a much-needed education about a group of people who have been pushed to the background for too long.