Voices

Mon 22nd – Sat 27th August 2011

reviews

Xandra Burns

at 15:43 on 26th Aug 2011

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Wholesome, weird, yet irresistibly heartwarming, Voices is a one-woman play written by Angela Howard and Jean Donald encouraging you to “always listen to your inner voice.” Jean Donald narrates the thoughts of Tina, a woman facing various life-changing problems, who finds comfort and direction in an imaginary Voice that advises her on how to rebuild her life.

Donald speaks with the kind of soothing voice that leads meditation sessions or reads audiobooks - in fact, the play is so text-heavy that it feels like a staged poem, perhaps due to co-writer Angela Howard’s background in writing radio plays. Despite the discomfort Tina experiences, she remains collected and hopeful, creating an atmosphere of positivity through her eager eyes and calming smile. Sometimes her thoughts are a bit cliché and sentimental, but let’s face it - this is how we talk to ourselves sometimes, even if we don’t admit it out loud.

Tina is influenced by the voices of the characters surrounding her as well as The Voice in her head (that she calls “My Voice,” although it is more of an external presence), but ultimately, her own inner monologue is the most prominent voice of all. The play is so vocally driven that at times it seems superfluous for an actor to be visibly present at all; Donald conveys little through her expressions and actions that isn’t already conveyed through the mastery of her voice.

Although many of Tina’s friends, family, and neighbors are introduced, I lose track of their names and personalities quickly. Instead I let Tina’s emotions tell the story without worrying about the specific details, which is not ideal, but also not entirely ineffective.

The concept of “inner voices” may seem too earthy or inaccessible to many - but if, for 50 minutes or so, you put aside any preconceptions and immerse yourself in Tina’s thoughts, you might find her unexpectedly relatable. She is pretty normal after all - the kind of admirable character who doesn’t recognize her own bravery for allowing herself to think so earnestly, which unfortunately, can be mistaken for weakness in today’s society.

The creators, Howard and Donald, encourage audience members to stay for post-show discussion and story-sharing, an experience that enhances the performance by connecting the artists with the audience in a way that is more personal than a typical Q&A. Although this show may not seem appealing to everyone at first, it carries a healing and hopeful power waiting to be accessed by an open mind.

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