A theater review of All Roses Company’s production of “Unheard Voices,” written by JS Bellator and directed by Ralph Tropf at Whitefire Theater Solofest.
“Unheard Voices” consists of a series of solo monologues based around stories of significant women in history. Eve, from “The Book of Genesis,” Helen of Troy, from “The Iliad”, and Pope Joan, who disguised herself as a man and became Pope John VIII.
This is a really fascinating show. Unusual for a solo show as it is really three solo performances in a row but with three different actresses. The stories are set as monologues, conversations really with the audience and various characters pivotal in the lives of these legendary women. And legendary it seems is the correct term, as they are all considered fictional of course. Even Pope Joan, who has been struck from the historical record within the Cattholic faith… which isn’t much of a surprise!
However, what occurs to me most about these three women after learning more about them through the show, is how very different they are from one another. Eve is portrayed as head strong, furiously adaptive and driven. Helen as a spoiled brat who regrets her role in the death of thousands mostly because she wants to be remembered as the daughter of Zeus. And Pope Joan, whose determination to keep her true self hidden and brilliance academically lead to her Pope hood and then ultimately to her sorry demise. All three women were very complicated. Which is rather wonderful I think. If stories are to be chosen from the many many women throughout history, then I think it’s important to give voice to women who remain mystical and unknowable in many ways. It’s also very important to give their voices layers and veils of fiction and truth. After all, we are all truly very complicated, so let that complication be elevated and celebrated just as much as historical context, myth and legend.
The “Unheard Voices” performances are wonderful, all keenly observed and deeply human. It’s a lot to ask of an actress, to fill these roles with nuance and truth when there have been hundreds of character references and thousands of years of myth and magic all potentially obscuring their true nature and making it that much harder for any audience to see them.
Yet, they each managed to create their own context and relationships to each of these women. And in doing so, allowed the audience to understand them with much more depth and brevity. Bravo!
How lovely to hear fresh voices tell these important stories, whether these fascinating women are myth or legend or history. It’s their individual and unique stories of strength and perseverance that always remain.
“Unheard Voices” will be streaming on the Whitefire Vimeo page for several more weeks.
Starring: Liz Spruell as Eve, Krystyna Walters as Helen of Troy and Mo Beatty as Pope Joan.