Silent No More is HEARD Loud and Clear!

The need to belong, some will say, is as great as our need for air. So why is it that certain communities divide themselves into subsections, fracturing off more of their own? Silent, No More gives voice to those who are deaf, but also speak. This newly formed sect of the deaf community is struggling to find their place among the deaf and hearing worlds. “We are the grey area, and we hope to add color to the grey”, says one participant.

With a simple set nestled in Carnegie Hall’s Recital Hall, nine brave souls took to the stage and shared their experiences of being “deaf-speak”, the new term for people who are deaf and also speak. Each one uniquely compelling in its own way, the performances left me moved and inspired. Whether deaf and speaking or an advocate for that community, every speaker reached into their soul. Sharing their most intimate themselves with us, they left an indelible mark on the audience.

I, as a disabled man, connected with each actor. I’ve often felt caught between two worlds, as they do. My disability is not visible (I use a wheelchair but can also walk), so am I part of the disabled community or the regular world? The “deaf-speak” struggle spoke right to my heart. And I hope that they will be fully embraced for who they are and not ostracized for being a part of both worlds. It’s no fun beight caught in the grey area and we need to change it. NOW!

Kathy Buckley, a deaf comedian and actor closed the evening. Her hilarity filled the room and her poignancy touched us all. I would be remiss if I did not mention No Limits, a school “where deaf children are empowered to speak, dream, achieve, and inspire.” The accomplishments, made by the participants, some of them alumni of No Limits, are impressive. From pilots to actors, there is truly nothing they can’t do. But their struggle is real and it’s a needless one. Let’s just accept this wonderful group for who they are and respect their right to make their own decisions. Shouldn’t everyone be allowed to live their life as they see fit? They stand where they stand, and they fit where they fit. That’s enough. Shouldn’t it be?

Clover Has a Fourth Leaf!

Have you ever woken up from a dream unsure what it meant, but the moments in it seem so real? Well, that’s a lot like the experience of seeing Clover, an experimental work by Erik Ehn. Presented as part of the Planet’ Connections Festival, this play will leave you feeling surreal to say the least.

It is hard to write a proper description of Ehn’s work because it is so fragmented. Filled with several vignettes, Clover works best when you just except what’s happening on stage as is and you don’t try to interpret it or link it together.Although an argument can be made that this is one man’s dream, this piece goes to too many extremes to buy into this theory whole-heartedly. Taken piece by piece, this is a moving work of theater, which deals with literally every topic under the sun. I was compelled, touched, and moved several times throughout the performance. It seems as if there are several narrators taking turns leading us down the proverbial “yellow brick road”
Director Glory Kadigan, takes us on this wild journey by creating stunning imagery and honest moments of human connection. Harold Surrat gives us a great moment of comedy when he turns to us and implores “why am i in this play…i dont have many lines?” It is moments like these,where the unexpected happens, when the play really grabs you.  James B. Kennedy offers up fine work as the Old Cronin. As I mentioned above, this could very well be his play and these are his dreams, but only the playwright knows that answer. Kennedy is outstanding and makes a strong case for it to be his play. But is is the 20 person ensemble that makes this show work. Every character left an indelible imprint on me.
Though it’s late in the run, go see this show if you can. Its worth the price of admission. Id love to hear what you got out of this non-linear piece of theater
Clover plays now through Dec. 16th at La Mama 74 E 4th St

Old Times Brings New Life to the Stage!

Old Times

Reviewed By Nicholas Linnehan

In trying times, which this is one of them, where does the artist belong? Uprooted by political turmoil, the need for art in all its forms can seem moot. But it is precisely times like these, where the world needs its artists to remind them of humanity and the increasing need for love, tolerance, and empathy. Thus, I applaud The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory’s production of Old Times by Harold Pinter. The show is fraught with deep emotional anguish that keeps us captivated for most of the time.

Why is it so hard to forget the people in our past? Do the imprints they leave on us ever go away? These questions boil to the top when Anna drops in on Kate and Kate’s husband Deeley. Kate and Anna were roommates some 20 years ago and have not seen each other since. But just how close were they and what lines might they have crossed? We are never quite sure, but one thing is for sure Deeley is immensely jealous of their relationship and a little turned on by it. Kate does not say much as the other two feud over here and she is cleverly ambiguous about her feelings towards either them. When she does speak, there is an intensity about her that makes us wonder what is underneath her surface. As the love triangle unfolds throughout the play, the web we are in grows more and more entangled.

At first, it is a challenge to get into the rhythm of the piece. There are many long pauses and ackward stares. The language is a bit archaic (after all this is an old play written about 50 years ago). But then the magic of theater happens and we become invested in the characters and what’s not being said is far more interesting than any spoken language. Katarina Vizina does a nice job playing the brooding Kate. She is like an onion (although far better smelling, I’m sure) giving us layer upon layer of profound emotional life. Phillip O’Gorman is as equally compelling as Deeley. We are never quite sure whether he’s more aroused or furious by the two ladies questionable relationship. He touts this line nicely and we are intrigued by his performance. Danielle Shimshoni is fiery as Anna and clearly longs for the closeness (whatever it was) that Kate and she had. Shimshoni is the catalyst and plays it well.

Brilliantly directed by Cristopher Martin. He doesn’t miss an ounce of the dramatic tension in the play and helps bring it to life! It you want bells and whistles, dont go see this play. But if you desire, subtle nuanced performances given by true craftsmen than you’ll enjoy Old Times. 

Old Times plays at The Alchemical Laboratory 104 W 14th St. through December 11th.