The Sylvia effect to be experienced by all the senses


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Drawing inspiration from the denominational poetry and tragic history of one of America’s most intriguing and influential writers, the world premiere of “The Sylvia Effect” at the Kingston Theater is a gripping tale of a family sharing their struggles, their love and their “vital force” through a lively language, coupled with a courageous desire to illuminate the darkest corners.


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Written and directed by Peter Hinton-Davis, it is a surprisingly self-aware work, fully aware but still without apologizing for its potential shortcomings, contradictions and pretension. While questioning both the legitimacy of any narrative and of those who control, edit and / or write it, the playwright here, necessarily, must do the exact same thing by crafting a script exploring the psyche, the emotions. and the motivations of another based on their own interpretations, assumptions and prejudices.

Openly lamenting that the poems are protected but the poet is not, Hinton-Davis and his company then take their own chance to examine and expose the innermost cogs of the fragmented mind, intense soul, and creative genius of Sylvia Plath. (Also, the irony of this review shouldn’t be overlooked, as it in turn does even more of the same, as a review of this company and their efforts to do so.)

By the author’s own admission, “This play is a work of fiction. … It is something imagined. It may be a true story, but it is not a true one. This being the case, one cannot be sure that a particular item or time is right or “true” – but everything is assuredly and beautifully honest and sincere in its intention and narrative. By recognizing, from the start, what it is and what it is not, this piece is released to openly question and play with the meaning of Plath’s life, work and death at his way, and through a lens that is not colored by the narratives and agendas of the family, scholars and psychoanalysts of the past.


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While the play is clearly about Plath and his family, the universal ideas and applications of their experiences are recognized in the choice not to name these characters. For those who may be less familiar and less comfortable with Plath’s work in particular, or poetry in general, Rosemary Doyle portrays The Daughter in a shaky way, providing easily accessible context and entry points. to all. As The Son, Ben Sanders finds power in the boy’s vulnerability and impacts his childbirth. Margaret LaMarre captures the spirit and conflict of The Mother in a way that constantly pulls the heart. Finally, as a poet, Katherine Gauthier is captivating, with depth and range of character and using a dynamic facial expression that suits the intimacy of the text and the fractured physical space perfectly. As a collective the vocal quality of the cast is superb, which is necessary to breathe real life into such words.

There comes a late point in the room where The Son shares an academic theory, suggesting that no poem should be too long, as there is so much to digest and process. This is a thought worth considering in the case of the piece as well, given its density and the gravity of much of the subject matter. It may be possible for Hinton-Davis to achieve the same results with a few selective edits that might make the show a bit shorter and more palatable, especially for those who are likely to be triggered by many hard-hitting truths that must be faced throughout.


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“The Sylvia Effect” is a very stimulating, often frightening, but particularly charming piece of poetry and performance art. It’s an immersive theatrical production to experience with all the senses, not just to watch. Like many excellent poems, it may not offer ease or clarity of understanding, but rather evokes raw emotion and the most full of feelings – ultimately raising many questions, instead of claiming that it has. some answers.


The Sylvie effect

A presentation of the Kingston Theater, w written and directed by Peter Hinton-Davis and performed at the Baby Grand Theater until November 14. Tickets available at the Grand Theater box office and online at

To throw

The poet: Catherine gauthier

The mother: Marguerite LaMarre

The son: Ben sanders

The girl: Rosemary Doyle


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