A New York Theatre Guide to... The Sound Inside!
The Broadway premiere of The Sound Inside, starring Mary-Louise Parker, continues its limited run at Studio 54 through January 12, 2020.
Following an acclaimed world premiere production at Williamstown Theatre Festival in the summer of 2018 (and a glowing review in The New York Times to boot), the intense two-hander drama The Sound Inside has landed on the Great White Way. The transfer marks the long-overdue Broadway debut for Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Adam Rapp and defies Broadway preconceptions. Sometimes, less is indeed more, folks! The Sound Inside began its limited run at Studio 54 on September 14, officially opening on October 17.
What’s it all about?
In The Sound Inside we meet Bella, a long-tenured professor of creative writing at Yale University. Years ago she simply 'stopped liking people,’ in her own words, and decided to bury herself inside literature rather than to actively seek out human connections. At the age of 53, she now finds herself with a devastating cancer diagnosis, the disease that so cruelly took away her own mother at a similar age. Enter Christopher Dunn. He is a freshman at Yale and an outsider, reluctant to conform to the restrictions of college and life, and also, in Bella’s eyes, a young prodigy. Both professor and student are strangely drawn to each other like a moth to a flame and finally Bella asks an ultimate and unthinkable favor of Christopher. Will the troubled youngster oblige or will he write a different ending to their story?
Who’s starring in it?
Reuniting on Broadway following the Williamstown Theatre Festival world premiere are Tony, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Mary-Louise Parker and Will Hochman, in his Broadway debut. Ms. Parker began her career on the stage before finding fame in television and film. You may recognise her from her Golden Globe-winning role of Nancy Botwin on Showtime’s “Weeds,” her Emmy Award-nominated role of Amy Gardner on NBC’s “The West Wing,” or her Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning role of Harper Pitt in HBO’s acclaimed TV adaptation of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.” She has also starred in a plethora of Hollywood films, diversely ranging from “Fried Green Tomatoes” to “Bullets Over Broadway” to “The Spiderwick Chronicles” to “RED,” and its sequel “RED 2.” And Ms. Parker is equally as accomplished on the stage, having won a Tony Award in 2001 for Proof, and earning Tony nominations for Reckless (2005) and her Broadway debut in Prelude to a Kiss in 1990.
What’s special about this production?
Kudos to newcomer Will Hochman who mesmerizingly holds his own opposite the sublime Mary-Louise Parker. Both performances are so beautifully restrained, nuanced and intimate in this darkly atmospheric production. Both actors switch effortlessly between narration, as if they were fluidly writing the script or providing an inner voice-over to the proceedings, and being in the moment… and these many moments are honest, direct, raw, and ominously alluring.
But these two fine performances aside, perhaps the (other) most special aspect of this production is the direction by Tony Award winner David Cromer, who has resisted the temptation to ‘go big’ for Broadway after helming the WTF production. His manipulation of darkness and containment creates the optimum level of intimacy that this play requires. Almost engulfed by the surroundings of Studio 54, the production prefers to draw the audience in, as opposed to playing out to them. Projections are few and meaningful, landing a greater impact when they are actually utilized, and Heather Gilbert’s purposefully bleak lighting design is as much about concealment as it is about illumination. All in all, The Sound Inside manages to create a disarming illusion, forcing the audience member to forget they are in a sizable Broadway theatre, and slip unknowingly into fly-on-the-wall mode. By the time the drama’s shocking revelations hit us, we almost feel like a kind of tragic accomplice before we fly out of the open window onto 54th street and take in a long, deep, reassuring breath.
Who would we recommend it to?
If you long for theatre that is as bold as it is intimate and you shy away from the flashy, glittering side of Broadway, then The Sound Inside is for you. If you crave meaningful discussions about literature, language, human connections, intellectualism, and mortality, you will find solace in Adam Rapp’s masterfully constructed text. And if you are just in the market for an acting master class, then you could do a lot worse than witnessing a seasoned pro like Mary-Louise Parker and a standout newcomer like Will Hochman in action!
Check out our New York Theatre VIDEO Guide to The Sound Inside here...
The Sound Inside Tickets are available now for performances through January 12, 2020.
(Photos by Jeremy Daniel)