Dreams of Sonya, an original work by the gifted writer Micah Thompson, was performed as a two-woman show by Lindsay Morgan and Katrina Case at the Kroc Center, April 19th and 20th. First, I would like give a plot summary as simply as possible and then expound further on some of the nuances of the text. Then I will evaluate the theatrical elements and acting techniques involved in the production.
This play immediately causes the audience to think, to ask questions about what they are seeing and hearing. The audience is quickly introduced to pieces of the puzzle and has yet to understand how they fit. The audience meets Sonya, played by Lindsay, who is in a place called “nowhere.” She cannot remember how she got there and why she is there. The next character to come on stage is Ophelia, played by Katrina, who is confused and distraught over having lost her name. She challenges Sonya as she leaves with a statement that Sonya may know the “word” that is her name, but she has yet to know the very parts that make up that name or what it means. The next character we meet is Smee from Peter Pan also played by Katrina. He tells Sonya of the importance of the story, the story of who we are. Next the audience is introduced to Katrina’s third character, Serena. She is here to help Sonya, to bring her back to who she was before, although neither of them have a full grasp on who she was. The audience can clearly see Sonya’s progression towards her own insanity. Sonya begins to tell Serena a story. Suddenly Serena finds herself in the midst of confusion by somehow being jolted into the mind of Sonya. She encounters three people played by Lindsay: an old woman from Tennessee, an insane woman who has no name, no feelings, and no direction, and Hamlet. It is through her conversation with Hamlet that she realizes what is actually going on. She is not a physical being as she previously thought, she is a fragment of the broken mind of Sonya. She also realizes that she is the only one who can talk with the small piece of Sonya that is still holding on to reality, the “soul” of Sonya. Hamlet admonishes Serena to not take existing for granted because there are thousands of things that never get the chance to exist. In the conclusion of the story, Serena finally reaches deep into the recesses of Sonya’s mind to find the answer to the major dramatic question of the play. What was that horrible and strong force that broke Sonya? A video segment made by Justin Snyder brings the story full circle when the audience realizes that Sonya is actually laying in a hospital bed. She was in the car with her husband and little boy, reading Peter Pan to him, when they were in a severe car accident. The father and boy did not survive. At the very end Sonya makes a choice. Does she chose reality even though it is painful or does she choose insanity? Although this puzzled the audience, the greater conclusion is that there is a choice. The question for the audience was simply, “What choice will you make?”
The nuances within the script, the “breadcrumbs,” as one of BJU’s Theater Arts teachers so frequently words it, were so well-laid throughout the script. It was chaotic and comical and seemingly disjointed at first, but we as audience members just couldn’t see the whole picture until the end, and when we did see it, it was beautiful. For the first twenty minutes of the production it seemed so complex, and I questioned how it would be resolved in such a way that delivers a clear message. But my confidence in Micah had not been shaken! At the conclusion of the play I thought, “wow, it is such a complex story, yet such a simple message.” A question that arises at the end, after we learn what really happened to Sonya is, “Is ‘time’ a healer of our pain?” And Serena’s last statement is that sometimes “time” only makes things worse. It clearly left the audience with two options, either run from your problems or face them. This was a story that I thoroughly enjoyed and was provoked to further evaluate my own questions and answers.
The space was beautiful. It was comfortable and spacious while maintaining a fairly intimate feel for a proscenium stage. The set was laid out in such a way that created levels and diversity; it wasn’t linear. It was simplistic but also visually stimulating. However, due to the lack of incline, from my vantage point anything below the knee was unable to be seen. There were two projector scenes on either side of the stage which made viewing the media very easy. Although there were a few small technical problems such as microphone noises as well as pixilation in the media, neither of these impeded my experience, nor did it remove me from the world that was being developed before me. I thought their set, use of space, and media enhanced their performance and was professionally done.
Having seven completely different characters to portray and only two people to do it is quite a challenge and Katrina and Lindsay rose to that challenge and were met with great success. As an actor myself, I watched for physical distinctions, listened to vocal quality and pitch variations, rhythm of speech, as well as personality. Both ladies did a wonderful job at masterfully differentiating between all seven characters. Never was I confused or questioned who was talking. The pacing was never slow. I remained fully engaged throughout the performance. Their cues weren’t dropped or their speech mumbly. They demonstrated excellent character work, and the result was quite an impressive accomplishment.
Overall, this production was so well-prepared and well-performed. I loved both the story and the message behind the story. I could appreciate it on a personal level as could essentially all audience members to some degree. I hope you will not only consider what choice to make in the face of pain or whether “time” truly does bring healing, but rather ask yourself who is the true Healer of my pain.
If you were able to catch this spectacular performance then I hope this article has echoed some of the thoughts you had as you left. If you weren’t able to be a part of the audience then I hope you are wishing you had! Perhaps Dreams of Sonya will be performed again in the future. Be sure not to miss it!
~By Jessica Bowers
~Photos by Matt Jones