Waves crash and canine howl past concrete partitions, whereas inside a holding cell a rotary telephone trills and typewriter keys lash at a sparsely stuffed web page. There are few moments of quiet in “9 Kinds of Silence,” directed by the playwright Abhishek Majumdar, with unique music and densely layered sound design by M. Florian Staab. On this tense parable a few soldier’s homecoming that opened at 122CC Theater in Manhattan on Monday night time, each sound underscores what’s left unsaid.
A clerical employee often called Mom, performed by Hend Ayoub, fills the already-thick air with phrases. She is “coaching returning troopers to belong,” in accordance with a authorities guide on her cluttered desk that encourages veterans to talk earlier than they’re despatched again into the arms of their very own moms. (Officers worry, we later be taught, that these bottled-up vets will explode, posing a risk to their homeland.)
Clammed up and shellshocked, her present case, often called Son, performed by Joe Joseph, is slumped in a chair on the opposite facet of a beat-up tarp that divides the room in two (the set and costumes are by Jian Jung). His eyes are obscured by darkish glasses, his shoulders are hitched as much as his ears and his arms are slung throughout his ribs in a limp embrace. Mom salutes this Son as a hero, but when that is his reward, it hardly appears value the fee.
Ayoub rises admirably to the problem of taking part in reverse a personality arrested by trauma, in what’s, for a good portion of the manufacturing’s 80 minutes, primarily a one-woman present. Her clerk leads the crumpled soldier in vocal workouts meant to reanimate his nationwide fealty, together with sounds of recognition (“aha!”) and totally different shades of laughter, a spotlight of Ayoub’s efficiency. Because the play progresses, she begins to query, at her personal peril — and in a tenor that grows more and more private — the which means of patriotic sacrifice.
Majumdar casts his antiwar critique in familial phrases; the militarized regime to which each Mom and Son are sure is figured as patriarchal. Although the play consists of prayers in Arabic, and references to a religious prophet and a supreme chief, its geopolitical context is left intentionally imprecise.
Moms sending their sons into battle, and the bodily and religious wounds inflicted on everybody within the course of, is close to common territory. However in foregoing each character improvement and broader specifics of time and place, Majumdar winds up treading a muddy center floor.
The play’s observations about nationalism, religion and the human tolls of conflict really feel distant and theoretical, regardless of the intimate scale. When it comes time to land an emotional punch, the influence right here is muffled.
9 Sorts of Silence
By means of Oct. 7 at 122 Group Arts Heart, Manhattan; playco.org. Operating time: 1 hour 20 minutes.