“Sound” Produced by Azeotrope

Among the core values of Azeotrope is the belief that theatre can and should draw together disparate communities. This, its newest production does just that. “Sound” is a bilingual play presented in spoken English and American Sign Language. Through clever use of unobtrusive live translators on stage and written translations in superscript, the entire play is accessible to both hearing and Deaf audiences.

Written by Dan Nguyen, directed by Desdemona Chiang and Howie Seago, and played by a talented cast, it turns out to be a remarkable, and, probably for most people, an unforgettable theatrical experience.

Two stories are woven within the work. The one that takes place in the late 19th C concerns Alexander Graham Bell (Richard Nguyan Sloniker), the man who sought to cure deafness, and his wife Mabel (Elizabeth Ayers Gibson) who sought a husband who gave equal attention to his family as to his work.

The other story concerns a contemporary divorced couple who have a Deaf daughter, now a teenager. The hearing mother (Lindsay Evans) agrees to allow their child to have a cochlear implant so that she can hear and fully appreciate life. The Deaf father (Ryan Schlecht) is outraged. To him, the life of a Deaf person is full and rich. Daughter Allison (Cheyenna Clearbrook) shouldn’t have that “normal” taken away from her in exchange for the greater society’s “normal.”

This is a sophisticated exploration of broken families, modern teens, and, of course, the many conflicting concepts about deafness and the treatment of Deaf people within the lager society.

Ryan Schlcht, as the outraged father who so wants to protect his daughter, seethes with emotion. Lindsay W. Evans as the mother who is also committed to doing the right thing for Allison brings equal passion and love to her role. They are supported by a strong cast.

This modest production has no bells and whistles, just incredibly good acting in a powerful play on a subject that is rarely ever addressed in theatre, and is accessible to both hearing and Deaf audiences. Don’t miss it.

Through Oct. 4 in The Bullitt Cabaret at ACT, 700 Union St., Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org)

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