The Silent Language
OUR RATING: Do It!
Recommended for Ages 8 & Up
This spring, TUTA dances forth onto the Chicago stage with Miodrag Stanisavljevic’s The Silent Language. In this adaptation of a Serbian folk tale, a young boy enters the forest to learn the secret silent language that allows him to understand the animals who help him throughout his quest. With a lavishly decorated space, adventurous plot and equally questful characters, you’ll be immersed in TUTA’s magical world from start to finish.
Adam: What is the silent language? In the bewitching terrain of TUTA’s stage, we are introduced to a concept beyond the communications of humans. It is the animal language, that primal understanding, the bearer of which has unprecedented access to the mysteries of the untamed wild. Poor Gasho (Max Lotspeich), gaining this ability, must fulfill the archetypal journey of the hero, rescuing the Princess (Carolyn Molloy) from the clutches of the evil Elf (Aaron Lawson), while preserving his own skin.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Zoran Paunovic’s translation is the way it makes you appreciate and listen to nature herself. In the ever-encroaching, frenetic and mechanised world, the very idea that animals would have languages seems far away. Yet here, amongst the trees, it is possible to hear the crow speak or the frog croak and understand every gesture as a method of conversation.
Particularly admirable performances were given by Sean Ewert (the Boogeyman, others) and Jaimelyn Gray (the Ironjaw Hag and, memorably, the Crow) who threw themselves headlong into their roles, never faltering for a minute. Ewert’s hilarious, yet psychotic depiction of the nightmarish Boogeyman will make you laugh and jump, while Gray gives nuanced performances, shifting between her roles effortlessly and producing original characters for each. Getting caught up in the theatrical magic is amazingly easy – a must see.
Alicia: I fell in love with TUTA and this show over and over again, first being seduced by their friendly box office and front of house team, then courted by scenic designer Michelle Lilly’s magnificently magical space, and finally moved by the entire production and the encompassing experience for the senses it offered me. Newly appointed TUTA Artistic Director Jacqueline Stone directs this piece masterfully, and TUTA’s mission to bring innovative and international works to American audiences is clear and inspirationally refreshing.
TUTA’s commitment to original and rearranged forms of music is beautifully highlighted in this production, with original music and musical direction by Wain Parham and sound design by Joe Court, not to mention a collaboration between the entire acting ensemble to bring the sound onstage to life. The piece is musical in form and content, and moves with effortless rhythm from beginning to end, allowing one to feel as if they have joined a dance with Poor Gasho, the main character, through his journey into this fairy tale forest.
What most excited me with this production, if I really had to pick one aspect, was Branimira Ivanova’s costume design. I have never seen actors and a piece so transformed by this level of costume design for a storefront theater, with each magical character stunningly fantastical and unbelievably real all at once. I almost felt I was in the film The Labyrinth with such a riveting mesh of fantasy and reality, thus creating a world all to itself. In particular, the crow, frog and boogeyman were characters brought to life in the extreme, and I would see this production every night just so I could experience these personas and their physical manifestations all over again.
Final Thoughts: TUTA is the very definition of innovative international work, and they are a must-see within the Chicago theater scene, particularly with this enchanting production. TUTA invites you to partake in this fairy tale and inhabit its mystical world, and we suggest you take them up on the offer.