BWW Reviews: Well Performed and Harrowing A SMALL FIRE from Sound Theatre Company Misses the Mark

Gordon Carpenter and Teri Lazzara in A Small Fire
Photo credit: Ken Holmes

Maybe it was the fact that the theater was a hot box. Maybe it was the incessant nervous twitch that one audience member had that apparently everyone could hear but him. Or maybe it was that the show just isn't my style. But Sounds Theatre Company's production of "A Small Fire", while having some stellar performances, just didn't quite do it for me.

True, Adam Bock's tale of a woman, Emily (Teri Lazzara), one by one losing her senses (first smell followed by taste, sight and hearing) while her family and friends helplessly watch is a powerful and horrifying one. That I admit freely. But as powerful as the situation is, I just didn't feel the story went anywhere. We have a beginning which is the introduction of this very strong woman who is used to taking care of everything and everyone on her own, and her family and friends who follow suit in her control. We have a middle where she slowly loses all sense and control over her life. But then we didn't really have an end per se. I didn't see much of a plot for the show so much as a theme or character analysis. But that's just me; I prefer my theater to tell me a story completely.

But as much as the script didn't bring it home for me the production does. Julie Beckman has assembled and staged a fine cast with some nicely innovative set elements from Montana Tippett which fit beautifully in such an intimate space. Beckman really conveys the tragedy and helplessness of the situation to the audience.

And as I said, the cast is sublime. Lazzara manages to take this very strong woman and break her down into pieces one by one but still retain the strength and drive she once had. And her journey into complete isolation is a striking thing to behold. Gordon Carpenter does a fine job as Emily's husband John who's used to being taken care of and now has to run it all. Sara Coates brings in some stunning moments as Emily's daughter Jenny as she struggles with her Mother's illness and her Father's related isolation. And Ray Tagavilla lends some hilarious comic relief to the piece as well as his own quite touching moments dealing with his own losses as well as the loss of his friend who may seem lost but is still quite present.

So yes, the performances and production value are there but the script just wasn't my cup of tea. Not to say it's not others but I just need a little more storytelling in my theater which is why with my three letter rating system I give "A Small Fire" a MEH+.

"A Small Fire" from Sound Theatre Company performs at New City Theatre through June 21st. For tickets or information visit them online at

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From This Author Jay Irwin