Category Archive for: ‘Go See’

Word for Word’s Night Vision and Silence captivate Z Space Below

Word for WordWord for Word Presents Stories by Emma Donoghue and Colm Tóibín: “Night Vision” by Emma Donoghue and “Silence” by Colm Tóibín, Directed by Becca Wolff and by Jim Cave. Z Below, 470 Florida Street, San Francisco, CA. 866-811-4111 or at

February 27- April 3, 2016

 Word for Word’s Night Vision and Silence captivate Z Space Below [rating:5]

For their first production of the 2016 season Word for Word theatrical group has again sought Irish authors who are noted story tellers. This time they have chosen authors who have been transplanted to America and are still earning honors with multidisciplinary endeavors. Emma Donoghue the author of the curtain raiser “Night Vision” is the creator of the novel “Room” that has been made into a movie nominated for Best Scriptwriting by the Academy Awards. “Silence” is by the prolific Colm Tóibín whose book “Brooklyn” also has been made into a movie earning multiple 2016 Oscar nominations. Both stories now gracing the stage at the intimate Z Below space are historical vignettes based on the lives of two women writers and the adversities they encountered.

“Night Vision” is from Emma Donoghue’s collection of stories “The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits.” It tells the story of young, blind Frances Browne (Franny) who became one of Ireland’s renowned poets. Born blind into a family of 13 she had to overcome her blindness and the unfair burden placed on a woman seeking an education in Ireland in the 1820s. She became known as Blind Poet of Donegal and when she moved to London with her younger sister became a successful novelist.

“Night Vision” traces her life from age 8 and through her development while in Ireland. Rosie Hallett is absolutely brilliant as young Franny from the time she wanders alone in the forest until her early adulthood. Her protective family, especially her father (the versatile Robert Sicular), was very supportive of her desire to get an education. Interspersed with the moments of drama are humorous vignettes that often involve the crowding of 12 children into one bedroom. Director Becca Wolff adroitly maneuvers the cast through simplistic yet clever changes of scene by elevating and lowering a white drape on a wooden rod to that switches a living room to a bed room to a school room and community hall. The skillful six member cast switch their costumes and demeanor without detracting but rather enhancing the individuality of the printed page.

As with the all of Word for Word productions every written word is acted out and the characters often finish the lines of others. In doing so it gives a third dimension to the printed word possibly depriving us of the ability visualize each character through our personal perspective. Rather than a fault of this company that has been functioning for a quarter of a century is an attribute that is to be savored.

Whereas Night Vision is a story of an exceptional woman born into a working class society, Silence Colm Tóibín explores the upper social class world of Isabella Augusta (nee Persee) who became known as Lady Gregory (Stephanie Hunt) through marriage. Tóibín starts his tale with an introduction to famed novelist Henry James (Robert Sicular) telling a story of a lady who was discovered to have a past lover by her new husband and the consequence in that marriage. The real Lady Gregory who became a writer, playwright and theatre manager founded the Abbey Theatre in Dublin had tumultuous love-affair with young married poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (Rudy Guerrero). The secret affair continued for months without the knowledge of Lord Gregory (Richard Farrell) nor Lady Ann Blunt (Rosie Hallett). After the affair ended Lady Gregory became a very good poet and through chicanery had her poems printed in Blunt’s collected work under his name.

In contrast to the acting in Night Vision, Silence is very stylistic and the costumes somewhat regal. In the lead roles Stephanie Hunt and Rudy Guerrero play beautifully off of each other and one can feel the passion between them. Robert secular again displays his versatility in his polished switches for the many characters he portrays. One might not recognize Rosie Hallett whose performance as Lady Blunt is as different as night and day from her role as Franny. Richard Farrell and Patricia Silver earn accolades for their top notch performances for individual and ensemble roles.

The company’s finely honed skill is on full display in this current production and is highly recommended. Running time under two hours including an intermission.

Artistic Staff: David A. Young, Stage Manager; Jacquelyn Scott, Scenic Design; Jeff Rowlings, Lighting Design; Caltie Floor, Costume Design; Brian Hickey, Sound Design; Devon LaBelte, Props Artisan; Lynne Soffer, Dialect Coach.

Cast: Richard Farrell , Rudy Guerrero , Rosie Hallett, Stephanie Hunt , Robert Sicular, Patricia Silver, Sheila BaIter (March 30,31 & April )

Kedar Adour, MD

Courtesy of

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