Reviewed by Felix Gonzalez
Have you ever had to deal with a person suffering from emotional issues? Do you have someone close to you that has been diagnosed with a mental illness?
Playwright Sibyl Renaye bravely poured her soul and life story into an enthralling evening at the theatre.
Sibyl Renaye’s production of This Is Why I Whisper captures the essence of what it means to deal with a loved one under the shadow of Schizophrenia. Jonathan Valdez directs this refreshingly poignant tale about a family that comes to grips with what it means to care about someone afflicted by this poorly understood condition; after the sudden loss of the matriarch who refused to take the easy way out.
The small dark stage, simple lighting and minimalist set lent an intimate feeling to the storytelling style that playwright Sibyl Renaye uses to draw you into the characters and story line. The costuming while subtle, was still detailed enough to add to the overall feel of each character’s personality, lifestyle and demeanor. Nothing says good hearted goody two-shoes more than a pencil skirt and flats.
Of note were the performances of Catherine Cushenberry as Lauren, the sister who struck out on her own to find financial and emotional freedom and Keith H. Henley as Uncle Cecil, whose lively and entertaining portrayal gave us a lovable sense of determination amid laughs that kept the family together in its darkest hour. Michael Gilbert admirably brings Perry, the complex and conflicted character to life without overdoing it allowing us to feel for his character as well as those impacted around him.
A worthwhile investment for a glimpse into how our humanity can get lost under the strain of mental illness and then saved through the love of family. The play educates while it entertains you proving that there truly is no need to whisper.
The play has become somewhat of a phenomenon, having seen numerous preview runs and even portions filmed for television. One can guess that this play will be seen again – possibly closer to Midtown?
Mr. Gonzalez – after a stint managing at Madison Square Garden – is now a contributing writer to OuterStage and a burgeoning member of the entertainment community. He recently appeared in the film, Veronica’s Birthday.
Promotional photos of Whisper by A.G. Liebowitz for a segment on ABC-TV’s Here & Now.