The Sound Inside BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Jeremy Daniel
  • NY TIMES

  • DEADLINE

  • VARIETY

  • HR

  • NY OBSERVER

Opening Night:
October 17, 2019
Closing:
January 12, 2020

Theater: Studio 54 / 254 West 54th Street, New York, NY, 10019

Synopsis: 

Playwright Adam Rapp is a master of the small moments that define a character. He created beautiful portraits in his earlier play Red Light Winter which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2006. He has done so once again in his new play, THE SOUND INSIDE. Here we meet Yale creative writing professor Bella Baird and her brilliant, guarded, challenging student Christopher Dunn. Bella starts by addressing the audience in direct, brutally open narration. She is his professor, his mentor, alone by choice, supremely confident. She is drawn to him, somehow compelled to know him. And also there is something she wants from him. Something that she may not be able to ask. The tension of their encounters builds quietly, provocatively as the playwright drives forward to a stunning conclusion.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Sound Inside

    Review: Mary-Louise Parker in the Subliminal, Sublime ‘Sound Inside’

    Jesse Green

    October 17, 2019: The urge to move small shows to Broadway should generally be resisted. Whether musicals or plays, most transfers from 199-seat houses feel dinky in palaces accommodating 900, and the frantic efforts made by creative teams to fill the void too often wind up highlighting it instead. There are, of course, exceptions, including “The Band’s Visit,” which won the Tony Award for best musical last year. That show’s director, David Cromer, a minimalist to begin with, didn’t inflate the material for Broadway; he battened it down, as if for a storm. Urging the audience to come closer instead of forcing the show to grow bigger, he made you enter its world through the smallest possible door. The surprise — and joy — is that the world can seem so vast when approached that way. Or at least it does in Cromer’s flawless production of “The Sound Inside,” a play by Adam Rapp that opened at Studio 54 on Thursday. When I saw its world premiere at the Williamstown Theater Festival in 2018, it was already a gripping small-scale mystery, and a spectacular showcase for its star, Mary-Louise Parker. Now, having been put through Cromer’s less-is-everything makeover, it’s even more resonant on Broadway: a tragedy about fiction, both the kind we read and the kind we live.

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  • DEADLINE REVIEW OF The Sound Inside

    ‘The Sound Inside’ Broadway Review: Dark Days, Darker Thoughts & The Incandescent Mary-Louise Parker

    Greg Evans

    October 17, 2019: Broadway doesn’t really do thrillers anymore. Unless we expand the definition to encompass the wailing banshees of The Ferryman or the occasional Martin McDonough blood drench, the stage has mostly ceded the genre to Hollywood. Yet that scarcity goes only so far in explaining the odd power of Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside, a remarkable psychological mystery starring the ever-astonishing Mary-Louise Parker and her sole co-star, the up-to-the-challenge Broadway newcomer Will Hochman. The word “thriller” might be misleading – The Sound Inside, directed by David Cromer with a hushed surety and opening tonight at Broadway’s Studio 54 – includes no obvious crimes, no hint of the supernatural or anything else we associate with bump-in-the-night tales. Rapp instead has written an intensely quiet play of two lonely people circling one another, each as wary of the other and both seeming to reach out more as instinct than plan. To say we fear the worst is more or less true, but only because we hope for something good and suspect – both from the mood created and the hints dropped – that we’ll be as disappointed as we fear they’ll be.

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  • VARIETY REVIEW OF The Sound Inside

    Broadway Review: ‘The Sound Inside’ Starring Mary-Louise Parker

    Marilyn Stasio

    October 17, 2019: Mary-Louise Parker will take your breath away with her deeply felt and sensitively drawn portrait of a tenured Yale professor who treasures great literature, but has made no room in her life for someone to share that love with. The other thesp in this two-hander is Will Hochman, endearing in the supportive role of a writing student who understands his odd-duck teacher and shares her values. Their intense Platonic relationship is all the more touching for being, of necessity, so brief and, in the end, so confoundingly dramatic.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF The Sound Inside

    'The Sound Inside': Theater Review

    David Rooney

    October 17, 2019: In addition to his work writing for the stage and television — the latter including In Treatment, Vinyl and The Looming Tower — Adam Rapp's bio lists him as the author of nine published novels, a detail not unrelated to his Broadway debut. The Sound Inside is an emotionally layered two-hander in which the process of writing, reading and analyzing fiction is an inextricable part of how we come to know and care about both characters, played with moving restraint by a superb Mary-Louise Parker and impressive newcomer Will Hochman. Directed with exquisite feeling and precision by David Cromer, this intimate drama manages to be both literary and rivetingly theatrical.

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  • NEW YORK OBSERVER REVIEW OF The Sound Inside

    Life, Death, Good Prose: Adam Rapp Makes His Sublime Broadway Debut, ‘The Sound Inside’

    David Cote

    October 17, 2019: Attending Rapp’s Broadway debut (crazy it took 19 years!), I found myself lapping up his gothic metaphors and cockeyed similes (a woman observes of a younger man: “Our age difference is like an enormous cast iron pot hanging from the ceiling.”) I had missed the crazy-eyed bravado of his authorial voice, the romantic enshrinement of the greats: Faulkner, Balzac, Salinger and other worthies namechecked with irony-free gusto. The Sound Inside is not your usual, dialogue-driven drama; it’s an elliptical memoir dominated by self-consciously literary narration—pleasurable for its elegant prosody, but also a self-condemnation, marking the distance its characters maintain from life. “That sounds like writing,” is the gentle corrective the play’s characters—a solitary Yale fiction professor and one of her first-year students—offer each other at different times in a scene. In one of the impeccable staging’s nicest touches, director David Cromer has the professor interrupt her narration to jot down good phrases on a legal pad. The entire performance emanates, as it were, from that pad and woman, on a vast stage engulfed by shadows (masterfully marshalled by lighting designer Heather Gilbert). Everything we hear and see is subject to the laws of fiction.

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