12th Ave Arts is showing Bess Wohl’s Small Mouth Sounds through 11th of May. The play depicts a group of people at a silent meditation retreat in a forest and regardless of how less of a dialogue it has, the audience perfectly understands what is shown on the stage. Actors of Thalia’s Umbrella skillfully deliver their performance, that will make you stay hooked throughout the play despite its silent nature.
Small Mouth Sounds was first staged back in 2015 and has been played ever since. Bess Wohl’s ingenuity shows how the plot is constructed and directed well enough for audiences to stay drawn when the play is almost silent throughout its 100 minute duration. The group consists of six people and there’s also a guru, who is heard but is not seen. At the beginning of the play, the guru advises them to be silent in order for them to change themselves from who they are. It slowly becomes evident that the retreaters all have their own problems that hinder their state of minds. At that point you might even question how they are going to find that better version of themselves if they can’t talk out their problems. However, it turns out speaking out loud is not the only way to communicate, regardless of whether the other person is a stranger or someone you know well. We will see the strangers communicate through silence and still understand each other, and even engage in emotional “conversations”. From what I have seen, the play emphasizes that no matter what you are going through, you are not alone. At the end of the play, all the characters somehow leave the retreat with a change in themselves.
The set does not require much; there are tree-like curtains on the back to visualize a forest, six chairs, that are moved around throughout the play. The characters carry their mats, bags etc.; it is simple. The actors, I must say, are brilliant. They do a great job in expressing their characters’ stories without saying much or anything, and express everything through their actions and facial expressions. Since the 12th Ave Arts is a small venue, it is very easy for audience to focus on actors’ facial expressions. Even though there is not much dialogue, their voices are clear and loud enough to be heard in the last row.
Reminding you that you are not alone is not the only thing to take away from this play; there is much more to discuss about this play, because it will leave you in awe. You will think about it for days, questioning and attempting to answer some of the questions the play evokes. It’s definitely on my recommendation list now! On a side note, the play has a little nudity and sexual incidences, so it is not suitable for all audiences.
Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl. 12th AVE ARTS. Tamia’s Umbrella. 1620 12th Ave.
Seattle WA 98122. Thu-Fri-Sat 7:30 Sun 2:30 til May 11. Tickets: http://www.blackboxoperations.org/ (click on the poster of Small Mouth Sounds after entering the link)