Sotto Voce Theatre’s production of SEVEN is earning accolades from theatre critics and audiences alike. Check out the following comments from reviewers Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud.
“There’s something special about the number seven. For instance, there are seven colors in the rainbow and seven days in a week. The number seven also figures prominently in many religions and mythologies. The Talmud and the Koran both refer to seven heavens. Hinduismpoints to seven higher worlds and seven underworlds. Christian tradition acknowledges seven deadly sins and seven virtues, and the number recurs frequently in the Book of Revelation.
Also, the number seven is key in several miraculous events such as the fall of the walls of Jericho, the healing of a leper, and the resuscitation of a dead child. Furthermore, the biblical creation story tells us that on the seventh day, God rested; this was, of course, the day immediately after creating “man.” Indeed, we seem to see a kind of power or perfection in the number seven. It is this thrust toward power and perfection that fuels Sotto Voce Theatre’s production of Seven: A Documentary Play.
Sean Wellington directs this play, which played its first weekend at the Living Arts Collective in Durham and continues concludes its two-week run at Sonorous Road Theatre in Raleigh. It is a collaborative work of seven playwrights, and it is based on personal interviews of seven extraordinary women. Each of the women has a vital story to tell. Eeach story is at first horrifying yet eventually uplifting, and the play affords glimpses into the souls of each of the women.
The stories are told in a masterful way. That is, seven successive start-to-finish monologues could have proved tedious and might have left the audience with the impression that one was more important than the others. The authors, however, chose to present the various stories in “snippets”; or, perhaps, “chapters” would be a better term. One of the women takes center stage and begins telling her story. When it reaches a good stopping point, another woman launches into hers. This process continues until we are embroiled in seven separate stories, and it forges on until we have heard each to its completion.
As each of the women tells her story, others step forward as a sort of ensemble to help act out the stories. This, we must say, was brilliantly executed. On more than one occasion, we experienced chills as we listened and watched the ensemble act out the narration.
In the course of the play, we learn some rather disturbing facts about the sufferings of women and children due to such issues as: domestic violence (and various societies refusal to recognize it as a problem), sex trafficking, ritual rape, economic inequalities, religious persecution, and lack of medical care. And the list goes on.
The women in these stories deal with these issues and overcome great odds to survive and succeed, but they don’t stop there. Indeed, each of the “seven” seems to strive for the completion and the perfection of “Seven.”
The pacing is spot-on — it never drags and never races forward leaving us behind. The acting is universally top-notch. All seven actors draw us in to their characters and keep us engaged.
In Durham, Hazel Edmond played Hafsat Abiola from Nigeria. She will be replaced by Lebone C. Moses in Raleigh. The playwright is Anna Deavere Smith. Kaley Morrison plays Mu Sochua from Cambodia. The playwright is Catherine Fillou.
- Ra’Chel Fowler plays Farida Azizi from Afghanistan. The playwright is Ruth Margraff. Sharon Eisner plays Marina Pisklakova-Parker from Russia. The playwright is Paula Cizmar.
This play is an excellent one to attend in the wake of last month’s The Vagina Monologues. It is also a good prelude to the upcoming Women’s Theatre Festival in the Triangle Area. We also recommend it as a stand-alone piece. Its final performance begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Raleigh’s Sonorous Road Theatre.”