The Power of Shame: THE VOICES OF WE

Presented by 333 Productions and the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Written by Robbi D’Allessandro
Directed by Shana Gogansky

April 25 – May 9, 2015
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Boston, MA
Voices of We on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, gun shots, political satire, kickass feminism

(Boston, MA) Trigger warnings abounded for The Voices of We. They were plentiful because the writing was effective and the acting was very good. The stories in Voices aren’t necessarily true to life but they could be true for someone. The point is that these stories are true enough to appear realistic in performance. In the case of the scenes with the most abundant triggers, the inherent realism should serve as a warning to audience members that we, as a society living these stories, have a long way to go.  

Voices opens with a monologue from Anaideia (Poornima Kirby), embodiment of shame. Andaideia’s essence of corruption taints the women it touches. The audience initially rejected Kirby’s bawdy yet corruptive characterization. Just as people in the real world do, we viewers balked at the potential power of the angry woman. We refused to process it. This moment was a reveal of the sample-community the audience was to represent during the performance. We assumed the role of silent, acquiescent-by-proxy observer with our presence.

While Kirby delivers a strong performance, the use of Anaideia as a plot device to tie in all of the scenes was less successful. The monologues were too different, too disconnected for Anaideia to weave them together. It was too big a job for a character we only saw between scenes. Part of Voices beauty comes from its diversity. These scenes didn’t necessarily need anyone to tie them together. That they were sharing a stage may be enough.

The night particularly belonged to Amie Lytle in, “The Other Cheek,” and Lynn Wilcott in, “Rubenesque.” They were brave with their choices using either the full stage or almost none of it. Their characters were emotionally fragile but physically stable. The dichotomy was impressive.

There are many opportunities for actors to be intimate with the audience in The Voices of We. The monologues assume that the actor and the audience is intelligent. The dialogues push the boundaries of acceptable experiences between strangers. Best of all, D’Allessandro’s writing implies an inherent trust in the experiences of the characters personified on stage. We get to see the woman sharing their experiences as they are, not through the lense of who they intend to be. It was refreshing.

Proceeds of this production benefited women’s organizations in MA and across the US. More can be found out about this gracious effort here.

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