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The critically acclaimed domestic drama revolves around a deaf young man reared by a chaotically verbal family. Sensitively directed by Jonathan Moscone, the play both explores how the deaf experience of the world and suggests that all language limits our ability to communicate shades of truth. If the play never quite achieves the emotional crescendo it strives for, this family’s heady patois of banter and bile is immensely pleasurable, a symphony in snarkiness. Todd Rosenthal’s gorgeously cluttered set captures the intellectual nature of this clan dance shoes orthotics. Teetering towers of books and bohemian knickknacks vie for the eye..
Meet Christopher (a ferociously funny Paul Whitworth) the scabrously witty head of a British family for whom mockery and derision pass for intimacy. A scholar who tears into his wife Beth (Anita Carey) and children Ruth (Elizabeth Morton) and Daniel (an explosive turn by Dan Clegg) as if they were hastily-written term papers, Christopher never met a criticism he didn’t like dance shoes orthotics. Surviving his vicious sense of humor is a rite of passage for this troubled brood. In this house, bollocks is a term of endearment..
Steeped in a cauldron of negativity since childhood, Ruth battles timidity even as she pursues a life as an opera diva, while Daniel manifests his self-loathing by perpetually rewriting his thesis. Family dinner is a tidal wave of rage and bitterness cloaked in wit and literary allusions. Only deaf Billy (James Caverly, who is a deaf actor) sits above the fray, shielded by his oasis of quiet. His uneasy truce with his warring family falls apart when he falls for a woman raised in a deaf family. Slyvia (Nell Geisslinger) is slowly losing her hearing, crossing a bridge into Billy’s universe, and when she teaches him how to sign, it upends his life dance shoes orthotics.
Geisslinger, an Oregon Shakespeare Festival vet, subtly captures the strain Sylvia is under, translating for everyone around her even as she loses her grip on her sense of self. She also conveys the complexity of sign language as a ballet that invokes the whole body. Sylvia’s meet-the-parents scene is the heart of the play dance shoes orthotics. If the romantic connection between Caverly and Geisslinger never seems palpable enough to ground Billy’s epiphany, the battles between Whitworth (best known as former head of Shakespeare Santa Cruz) and Geisslinger crackle with electricity. He belittles the subtleties of sign language while she defends her mother tongue. It’s a scintillating debate, lit with insights into the hierarchies and rituals of the deaf community..
Unfortunately the second act doesn’t build on this intriguing setup as well as it might. Raine sometimes telegraphs her themes too much while failing to flesh out the eccentricities of her characters dance shoes orthotics. Slyvia’s journey into deafness is far more interesting than the extravagant angst of Billy’s siblings, which takes up a bit too much time (although Clegg is a riveting portrait in thwarted passion as the disturbed Daniel). Billy, for instance, remains somewhat vague in terms of his personality. Without more of a sense of who Billy is, it’s hard to care about his ethical quandaries..