Evaluation: Coal Mine Theatre’s ‘The Sound Inside’ is riveting

The Seem Within

By Adam Rapp, directed by Leora Morris. Until Might 28 at The Coal Mine Theatre, 2076 Danforth Ave. coalminetheatre.com

Unmoored, drifting in the ether in between fiction and fact, the two anti-heroes of “The Sound Inside” are loners. But they’re also perpetual observers — pathetically waiting, observing from the sidelines for a storybook narrative that in no way really arrives.

Bella Baird (Moya O’Connell) is a 53-year-old Yale professor of creative creating, a self-explained “single, self-possessed” woman without having little ones nor a partner who has put in substantially of her daily life in bigger schooling with little to exhibit for it.

Christopher Dunn (Aidan Correia) is one of Bella’s college students, an enigmatic freshman who 1st displays rabid machismo — he lumbers with a heavy step, throwing his backpack about without the need of care — however is, as well, a delicate, friendless misfit.

How the tales of these wistful souls intersect kinds the foundation of Adam Rapp’s riveting two-hander, now receiving an exquisite Canadian premiere at Coal Mine Theatre.

We learn early on that Bella is diagnosed with an intense cancer and offered a 20 for every cent opportunity of survival. Christopher, meanwhile, is struggling to produce a novel, eager to drive pretty much anything else aside to aim on this endeavour.

The plot unfolds like a thriller. But I’m hesitant to fully categorize it as these kinds of. A secret brims with suspense and an unrelenting travel toward an inescapable summary. Certain, “The Sound Inside” possesses individuals characteristics. Nevertheless as a great deal as you want to discover what arrives upcoming — do Bella and Christopher come across salvation in every single other? — you are also content to revel in the profound splendor of Rapp’s prose and his dense character analyze of two seemingly disparate personalities.

Rapp paints with words as an impressionist artist does with strokes of a brush, be it a scene when Christopher and his professor talk about the virtues of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” or a instant when Bella recollects her grim diagnosis.

The narration trades gracefully between Bella and Christopher. Scenes that prosper with figurative language are juxtaposed with some others that are brutally medical, offered succinctly with the chilly, difficult info.

That impressionistic texture — generally probing, by no means far too evident — extends to Leora Morris’s route, which eschews excess for mesmerizing symbolism.

Wes Babcock’s set, for occasion, is spare, populated with a picket desk and two chairs. Similarly, his lighting layout deftly draws the audience’s gaze to the physical particulars of each scene. Applying this basic output design, Morris shifts the action in between locales on Coal Mine Theatre’s little proscenium stage with relieve.

Possibly her most memorable directorial decision reveals alone through the 90-moment operate. As the tale performs out, Bella’s wood desk drawers are bit by bit eradicated, only to be stacked, criss-crossed atop a person other, at a entrance corner of the phase.

The symbolism of this will be interpreted in another way by each individual viewer, but I took it as a piercing metaphor for the emptiness of Bella’s and Christopher’s lives, a void stuffed with loneliness and unmentioned despair.

As professor and pupil, O’Connell and Correia are impeccably solid, capturing their characters’ repressed melancholy with delicacy and perception. O’Connell, a common face at the Shaw Festival, exudes a warm vulnerability, foiled by Correia’s erratic swings among fits of enthusiasm and emotionless reclusiveness.

Collectively, they have superb chemistry and, like Rapp’s usually stunning text, steer clear of the clichés that usually seep into stories about pupil-professor associations in increased education and learning.

For a play about creating, language and storytelling, Rapp looks a lot less involved about obtaining a resolution to all the threads woven into the plot than the journey to that summary, even if it suggests he fails to check out — or even accept — the attainable implications of his characters’ steps.

Nevertheless, there is no denying the ability of Rapp’s play, as presented in Morris’s thrilling new generation. It is an insightful, potent meditation on loneliness, agency and the stories we create — each for ourselves and for some others.

Ponder the concerns it raises, revel in its extraordinary composing and bask in the spell it casts.

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