American writer Bess Wohl’s play is set in a week long ‘mind, body and spirit’ retreat that encourages residents to be silent and take the time out to leave their troubles behind and re-centra themselves.
The play starts with a row of chairs facing the audience. First to grab a seat is Jan (Justin Smith), who appears very anxious and out of his comfort zone.
Next to arrive is a hippie character Rodney (Dorje Swallow) who immediately ups Jan’s anxiety by straight away going into a yoga/mediation pose.
Next to arrive is the anxious Ned (Yalin Ozucelik) followed by a couple who are in the middle of a spat (Sharon Millerchip and Jane Phegan).
Over the speaker is the retreats guru who starts giving instructions about how the retreat will run. It’s not long into the voice over that one recognises that this guru is a bit odd, an oddball smooth operator.
The final resident to arrive is Alice (Amber McMahon) who we see has over packed big time for her retreat. Alice is reprimanded by the guru (Jo Turner) for being late which Alice doesn’t really care about because she is so flustered.
There are little and not so little shifts and turns over the play’s ninety minutes with the challenge for the audience being that much of the action takes place without words. The experience is a little like watching a silent movie on stage without the subtitles. One has to be vigilant in watching the nuances the actors give on stage.
The direction by Jo Turner keeps the action moving at a fast pace. The performances are all well pitched.
Jasmine Rizk’s lighting is superb and picks up the moods of the various characters on stage.
Jeremy Allen’s set design is clean and elegant and features a hall with sliding doors which when opens showing a lush bush setting.
Tegan Nicholls soundscape incorporates the bush sounds of a retreat but also operates on a deeper level, complementing the action on stage.
This was an entertaining, enervating production. Recommended. A Darlinghurst Theatre Company production, SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS is playing the Eternity Playhouse until the 26th May, 2019.