note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
Multi-linguist playwright-director-actress Aditi Brennan Kapil is intrigued with how people communicate and interpret others’ languages, whether it’s a spoken foreign language, technology-driven, body, or ASL sign language.
She enjoys exploring these differences and similarities while increasing audience awareness in her latest play, “Love Person,” told in Sanskrit, American Sign Language, English and e-mail.
The two-act play is making its Boston premiere with Company One through June 23, and is creating a wide spectrum of appreciation and awareness.
In several instances, Kapil defines interpretative differences. For example, the word “lover” has no corresponding “sign,” but is interpreted as “love person”. She indicates Sanskrit is more easily related to sign language than English.
If anything, Kapil makes us think about how we communicate or fail to communicate with others, and that it’s more difficult for people with language and sound barriers to precisely figure out what others are saying. She also threads an invisible theme of loneliness here.
She deliberately creates pauses - times when nothing is said or bleeped on overhead monitors - just silence - giving us time to think, imagine, and savor.
Before the play begins, three large monitors beam Amelia Gossett’s colorful, abstract digital images and ever-changing messages, set to throbbing, pulsating music, elevating theatergoers’ anticipation in the small, darkened theatre. Throughout the play, Gossett beams Sanskrit, sign language and spoken words, riveting theatergoers’ attention to the screens and stage.
Besides mood-setting music, Jason E. Weber infuses dramatic sound effects, while Annie Wiegand’s lighting separates night from day and geographic sites on designer Dahlia Al-Habieli’s scaled-down, seamless tri-part set.
Director M. Bevin O’Gara’s fine cast helps tread these turbulent waves of communication. Sabrina Dennison is phenomenally captivating as Free, a deaf, insightful lesbian with a poetic soul but feisty demeanor, while Jacqueline Emmart as Free’s lover, Maggie, an English professor and sign interpreter, is equally commanding.
Maggie tries desperately to smooth Free’s relationship with her flighty, sexy, twice-married-divorced sister, Vic, (nicely portrayed by Scarlett Redmond), but it’s a constant battle.
Somewhere, Vic has met Ram, a shy, scholarly fellow originally from India but currently teaching Sanskrit and poetry at Boston University. Her desperate pursuit and hounding turns him off - until...
Ram thinks he’s communicating via e-mail with Vic, seeking her opinion about some poetry, but it’s actually Free who’s messaging him, sharing her thoughts. Ram is fascinated with her insight. Nael Nacer, originally from Paris and a Boston headliner, is quietly lowkey and effective as Ram, as he unwittingly navigates between sexy Vic on the phone and in person, and stormy Free via Internet, unaware that he loves aspects about both sisters.
As Free secretly becomes closer to Ram through her e-mails, she resents Maggie’s mediating between her and Vic, creating a rift between the two love persons while widening the gap between the sisters
. The four-way interrelationship ends with a satisfying solution.
BOX INFO: Boston premiere of two-act play written by Aditi Brennan Kapil, presented by Company One through June 23, at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont St., South End, Boston. Performances: Wednesday, Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; final Saturday matinee, 4 p.m. Tickets, $30-$38; students with ID, $15; seniors, $30; Wild Wednesdays, all seats, $18. Visit www.BostonTheatreScene.com, the box offices at BCA Calderwood Pavilion (527 Tremont St., South End) or BU Theatre at 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, or call 1(617)933-8600.