Surgical steel

Some Voices

By Joe Penhall
Directed by Kevin J. Kittle
Greenwich St. Theatre
547 Greenwich St. (255-3940)
(2 blocks S. of W. Houston; 2 blocks N. of Spring)
Equity showcase (no closing date set yet)
Review by Doug DeVita

Color. It played a central role in the recent production of Aubergine Days at the Boomerang Theatre, and it plays a subtler but no less effective part in Joe Penhall's trenchant drama about mental illness Some Voices, currently being given a smashing production at the Greenwich St. Theatre.

The acid-green and steel blue setting by Valerie Green, decorated with bas-relief images of food objects (appropriately, one of the main characters is a restaurateur who uses food as a way to bond with his mentally ill brother), abetted by Douglas Filomena's cold blue-and-white lighting, instantly created a mood that comforted and unsettled at the same time, perfectly in line with Penhall's eloquently moving, razor-sharp text. Green also contributed low-key costumes that never called undue attention to the fact that they were perfectly color-coordinated to the production, just as they were perfectly coordinated to the characters and their social, economic, and mental situations.

Victor Villar-Hauser gave Ray, the schizophrenic main character, a heartbreaking charm, and negotiated every twist and turn of his character's quicksilver personality with astonishing ease. Laoisa Sexton, as Laura, the abused and pregnant girl that Ray falls in love with, was equally heartbreaking, her character's steely fragility evident with every tiny, defiant gesture. As Ray's sympathetic but frustrated older brother, Mike Finesilver was a beautifully warm, truly supporting presence. Good work also came from David Costelloe as Laura's menacing ex-boyfriend, and Patrick Tull as one of Ray's fellow mental patients. Kevin Kittle directed with surgical precision.

Ludovica Villar-Hauser, who directed and produced the long-running Off-Broadway hit The Countess (which also got its start at the Greenwich Street Theatre), is producing Some Voices, a shrewd move on her part. Penhall's latest play, blue/orange, is currently a huge hit in London's West End, recently winning the Olivier Award for best new drama. With blue/orange poised to come to New York later this season, and Villar-Hauser's Off-Broadway track record, it's a natural for another successful transfer. And even if the show doesn't transfer, it absolutely serves as a brilliant introduction to Penhall, one of the sharpest new playwrights on either side of the Pond. That cold, steel-blue and acid-green pond.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Sets: 2
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2001 Doug DeVita