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Review: The Sound Inside, starring Mary-Louise Parker

Look closely. Closer than you think you would need to. Because The Sound Inside is practically flawless, a small-scale mystery that feels like it could explode out of Studio 54 by the end. Written by Adam Rapp, it is an exquisite and ultimately bleak character study about a person you would like to know, who happens to be a professor you would like to have.

Bella Lee Baird (Mary-Louise Parker), a 50-something English professor at Yale University speaks with the same wit and style which we can only assume she writes with. Throughout the narration of her life story, all the way through to her unexpected friendship with a student, Christopher (Will Hochman), this production is an absolutely riveting drama.

There is an overwhelmingly depressive nature to both Bella and Christopher, made clear in both the words they speak and the design and direction of the play. David Cromer's direction leaves nothing out of place, completely immersing the audience in the world that Bella lives in, much of which is inside her head. Even the dark lighting design and minimalistic set pieces make the nature of the characters clear.

What is most moving about Rapp's play however is the unexpected, yet completely platonic relationship that emerges between Bella and Christopher. From second Bella introduces herself onstage, asking if the audience of strangers will be merciful to her story, we are entrapped in the beautifully verbose language she uses to get her points across. And once Christopher arrives on stage, illuminated in the light of the hallway outside Bella's office, his determination to write leads them to a friendship that blurs the line between student/mentor and friends.

Throughout its entire 90 minutes, The Sound Inside keeps the audience engrossed as it steadily and stealthily moves forwards, always one step ahead. Thanks to brilliant performances and fantastic direction it is a practically flawless piece of theater that deserves to be seen.

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