The Solid Life of Sugar Water

Critics

LemonMeter

89 %

Reviews: 14

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

A Deaf couple’s relationship is revealed through their lovemaking in this startlingly intimate portrait of a marriage — made even more intense by Deaf West Theatre’s signature performance style combining American Sign Language with spoken English. Candid, uninhibited and visceral, this new play by award-winning playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival prior to an acclaimed run at England’s National Theatre. “Unflinching… I can’t remember when I last saw a play that was at once so forthright and so delicate.” — UK Guardian. Recommended for mature audiences only: adult themes, sexually graphic language. Sept. 5 – Oct. 13; Rosenthal Theater, Inner-City Arts, 720 Kohler Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021; $30-$44; (818) 762-2998 or www.deafwest.org

Reviews

Avatar

“The Solid Life Of Sugar Water” is a fascinating and quick look into the complex nature of human physicality and intimacy. The audience is allowed into their home, into their bedroom, and are able to see something incredibly raw and real before them.

sweet - Jessica Doherty - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Avatar

That the interactions are performed in ASL adds a balletic dimension to the characters’ ferocious rage and sadness. Cooley’s quirky Phil is engaging and lovable, making his inability to console his wife all the more harrowing. Frank’s emotional range, amplified by the physical demands of ASL, is incredible. The result is beautiful, genuinely moving drama about daily life and tragedy. - RECOMMENDED

sweet - Paul Birchall - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

Randee Trabitz has skillfully guided her cast through the humor and the tragedy of the story. Frank and Cooley rip your heart out with their impassioned performances while Camunas and Apostolina add the right amount of shading to their vocalizations. They don’t merely speak the words, they inhabit them. They make a Fantastic Four...

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis

The strong acting and voice over from the cast pull you in but it’s attached to other moments that seem more interested in poetic language, then actually doing anything interesting.

sweet-sour - Patrick Chavis - LA Theatre Bites - ...read full review


Leigh Kennicott

The Solid Life of Sugar Water, written by Jack Thorne, follows a couple as they negotiate the waters of trauma due to the stillbirth of their child. Randee Trabitz, who directs with sensitivity, has brought the play to life against an aerial view of the marriage bed as a backdrop. The projections —the bed; life size reproductions of the actors — elevate Deaf West’s production beyond more modest aspirations, with Tad Cooley as Phil and Sandra Mae Frank as Alice, drifting in and out of the evolving scenes, punctuated by front–of–stage interactions with their speaking counterparts (Nick Apostolina as Phil and Natalie Camunas as Alice), who also portray other characters as necessary.

This image of a couple in crisis ends in an explosive confluence of events so emotionally fraught that, on the night I attended, the action sent at least audience member from the room. Make no mistake, this production is an extraordinary achievement

sweet - Leigh Kennicott - ShowMag - ...read full review


Avatar

This is an all together professional production that shows why Deaf West Theatre has garnered accolades for the past many years.  Big River and Spring Awakening, past hits that made news in the Big Apple may be followed by this show that has every aspect of a Broadway production.

sweet - Michael Sheehan - On Stage Los Angeles - ...read full review


Avatar

What it is, is beautifully raw. The supreme honesty of two people ‘speaking’ all that they cannot or will not say to each other most of the time. The graphic nature of human communication when there’s nowhere to hide. - Very Highly Recommended

sweet - Tracey Paleo - Gia On the Move - ...read full review


Erin Conley

Despite jumping around in time, the story moves seamlessly, held together by the strong emotional thread of the core relationship. Overall, this play is a perfect choice for Deaf West, and beautifully realized in this production, which is a brutally honest look at coping and connecting in the face of tragedy.

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage & Screen - ...read full review


Avatar

Under Randee Trabitz’s fluid direction, they create an unusually compelling emotional landscape. Frank (a star of Deaf West’s Tony-nominated “Spring Awakening”) and Cooley (making his Deaf West premiere) occupy the spotlight, but Camunas and Apostolina aren’t just narrators on the sidelines. They’re alter egos, inner children, souls — and when needed, other characters in the story. The video projections (by Heather Fipps) are effective in differentiating action from memory. All four performers are appealingly warm and likable, and their mature, matter-of-fact approach to the graphic language sets a helpful example for the audience in getting through the yuckier bits.

sweet - Margaret Gray - LA Times - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

Deaf West's THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER features Sandra Mae Frank (the extraordinary deaf actor who starred as Wendla BWW Review: Intimate and Sexually Insightful THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER by Deaf Westin all three of their Spring Awakening productions at Inner-City Arts, at the Wallis and on Broadway) as Alice, who uses ASL to communicate along with deaf actor Tad Cooley who portrays Phil, although his character was not written as hearing-impaired in the script. Speaking actors Natalie Camunas and Nick Apostolina give voice to Alice and Phil's most private thoughts, both in and out of bed, by shadowing the actors and often portraying other characters being described during Alice and Phil's ASL conversations, with the quartet's true partnership presenting both characters visually and verbally to perfection.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

Much as I might like to agree that DWT is “the perfect company,” I am not so sure the trans-Atlantic and trans-ability transformation of Thorne’s play entirely works. The relationship between a hearing and a Deaf person is inherently different from one between two hearing or two Deaf persons. I don’t mean emotionally, for disability of almost any kind still allows for a full range of human responses. But technical details of negotiating the differences are reflected in the text itself, which doesn’t match up with what we are seeing and hearing. Phil’s character, in particular, is the problematic one. There are residues in the script of Phil struggling to communicate with the Deaf Alice—he calls himself a good lipreader, for example, and he chooses an LP recording to play at Alice’s apartment on their first sex date. So one can only wonder how he could become so quickly and so competently expressive in ASL until we realize, oh, yeah, in this production, he’s supposed to be Deaf, too.

sweet-sour - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar

While the production values are positively tremendous, this may not have been the best script for such a device. The British playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) has written plays based on other material, so it makes sense that his original two-hander is pocked with poetry (the “sugar water” in the title is Phil’s reference to Alice’s breast milk) but lacks a dramatic arc. By nature of the writing, which is still very beautiful, the non-linear play interrupts itself and the lines are dripping in poetic-speak and pseudo-realism, as if to copy the way we really think and talk, but in a theatrical way. Because of this, I was never bored for the 80 minutes, but neither was I fully engaged.

sweet-sour - Tony Frankel - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

Already the fall theatre season is opening with a bang. This week, it is Deaf West’s extraordinary production of Tony Award-winning playwright Jack Thorne’s, The Solid Life of Sugar Water. The title is left to the audience to ken, as is the searing, vibrant performance by the actors.

sweet - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

Short and bittersweet and powerful as all get-out, Deaf West’s The Solid Life Of Sugar Water packs one shattering punch. Don’t be surprised if it ends up being one of the year’s most acclaimed, talked-about productions.

sweet - Steven Stanley - StageSceneLA - ...read full review


Avatar

“The Solid Life Of Sugar Water” is a fascinating and quick look into the complex nature of human physicality and intimacy. The audience is allowed into their home, into their bedroom, and are able to see something incredibly raw and real before them.

sweet - Jessica Doherty - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Avatar

That the interactions are performed in ASL adds a balletic dimension to the characters’ ferocious rage and sadness. Cooley’s quirky Phil is engaging and lovable, making his inability to console his wife all the more harrowing. Frank’s emotional range, amplified by the physical demands of ASL, is incredible. The result is beautiful, genuinely moving drama about daily life and tragedy. - RECOMMENDED

sweet - Paul Birchall - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

Randee Trabitz has skillfully guided her cast through the humor and the tragedy of the story. Frank and Cooley rip your heart out with their impassioned performances while Camunas and Apostolina add the right amount of shading to their vocalizations. They don’t merely speak the words, they inhabit them. They make a Fantastic Four...

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis

The strong acting and voice over from the cast pull you in but it’s attached to other moments that seem more interested in poetic language, then actually doing anything interesting.

sweet-sour - Patrick Chavis - LA Theatre Bites - ...read full review


Leigh Kennicott

The Solid Life of Sugar Water, written by Jack Thorne, follows a couple as they negotiate the waters of trauma due to the stillbirth of their child. Randee Trabitz, who directs with sensitivity, has brought the play to life against an aerial view of the marriage bed as a backdrop. The projections —the bed; life size reproductions of the actors — elevate Deaf West’s production beyond more modest aspirations, with Tad Cooley as Phil and Sandra Mae Frank as Alice, drifting in and out of the evolving scenes, punctuated by front–of–stage interactions with their speaking counterparts (Nick Apostolina as Phil and Natalie Camunas as Alice), who also portray other characters as necessary.

This image of a couple in crisis ends in an explosive confluence of events so emotionally fraught that, on the night I attended, the action sent at least audience member from the room. Make no mistake, this production is an extraordinary achievement

sweet - Leigh Kennicott - ShowMag - ...read full review


Avatar

This is an all together professional production that shows why Deaf West Theatre has garnered accolades for the past many years.  Big River and Spring Awakening, past hits that made news in the Big Apple may be followed by this show that has every aspect of a Broadway production.

sweet - Michael Sheehan - On Stage Los Angeles - ...read full review


Avatar

What it is, is beautifully raw. The supreme honesty of two people ‘speaking’ all that they cannot or will not say to each other most of the time. The graphic nature of human communication when there’s nowhere to hide. - Very Highly Recommended

sweet - Tracey Paleo - Gia On the Move - ...read full review


Erin Conley

Despite jumping around in time, the story moves seamlessly, held together by the strong emotional thread of the core relationship. Overall, this play is a perfect choice for Deaf West, and beautifully realized in this production, which is a brutally honest look at coping and connecting in the face of tragedy.

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage & Screen - ...read full review


Avatar

Under Randee Trabitz’s fluid direction, they create an unusually compelling emotional landscape. Frank (a star of Deaf West’s Tony-nominated “Spring Awakening”) and Cooley (making his Deaf West premiere) occupy the spotlight, but Camunas and Apostolina aren’t just narrators on the sidelines. They’re alter egos, inner children, souls — and when needed, other characters in the story. The video projections (by Heather Fipps) are effective in differentiating action from memory. All four performers are appealingly warm and likable, and their mature, matter-of-fact approach to the graphic language sets a helpful example for the audience in getting through the yuckier bits.

sweet - Margaret Gray - LA Times - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

Deaf West's THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER features Sandra Mae Frank (the extraordinary deaf actor who starred as Wendla BWW Review: Intimate and Sexually Insightful THE SOLID LIFE OF SUGAR WATER by Deaf Westin all three of their Spring Awakening productions at Inner-City Arts, at the Wallis and on Broadway) as Alice, who uses ASL to communicate along with deaf actor Tad Cooley who portrays Phil, although his character was not written as hearing-impaired in the script. Speaking actors Natalie Camunas and Nick Apostolina give voice to Alice and Phil's most private thoughts, both in and out of bed, by shadowing the actors and often portraying other characters being described during Alice and Phil's ASL conversations, with the quartet's true partnership presenting both characters visually and verbally to perfection.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

Much as I might like to agree that DWT is “the perfect company,” I am not so sure the trans-Atlantic and trans-ability transformation of Thorne’s play entirely works. The relationship between a hearing and a Deaf person is inherently different from one between two hearing or two Deaf persons. I don’t mean emotionally, for disability of almost any kind still allows for a full range of human responses. But technical details of negotiating the differences are reflected in the text itself, which doesn’t match up with what we are seeing and hearing. Phil’s character, in particular, is the problematic one. There are residues in the script of Phil struggling to communicate with the Deaf Alice—he calls himself a good lipreader, for example, and he chooses an LP recording to play at Alice’s apartment on their first sex date. So one can only wonder how he could become so quickly and so competently expressive in ASL until we realize, oh, yeah, in this production, he’s supposed to be Deaf, too.

sweet-sour - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar

While the production values are positively tremendous, this may not have been the best script for such a device. The British playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) has written plays based on other material, so it makes sense that his original two-hander is pocked with poetry (the “sugar water” in the title is Phil’s reference to Alice’s breast milk) but lacks a dramatic arc. By nature of the writing, which is still very beautiful, the non-linear play interrupts itself and the lines are dripping in poetic-speak and pseudo-realism, as if to copy the way we really think and talk, but in a theatrical way. Because of this, I was never bored for the 80 minutes, but neither was I fully engaged.

sweet-sour - Tony Frankel - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

Already the fall theatre season is opening with a bang. This week, it is Deaf West’s extraordinary production of Tony Award-winning playwright Jack Thorne’s, The Solid Life of Sugar Water. The title is left to the audience to ken, as is the searing, vibrant performance by the actors.

sweet - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

Short and bittersweet and powerful as all get-out, Deaf West’s The Solid Life Of Sugar Water packs one shattering punch. Don’t be surprised if it ends up being one of the year’s most acclaimed, talked-about productions.

sweet - Steven Stanley - StageSceneLA - ...read full review