Crowded Kitchen Players’ premiere addresses topic that’s ‘Unspeakable’
“’Unspeakable’” describes a system that often finds itself inadequate to help the very individuals it has been created to serve,” says Ara Barlieb about the genesis of his new play.
The Crowded Kitchen Players’ “Unspeakable” has its world premiere March 22, Charles A. Brown Ice House, Bethlehem, where it continues March 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31.
“Unspeakable” tells the story of a boy, Adam Shane (represented by a Doug Roysdon-designed and built marionette handled by Pamela Wallace), who is part of a fragile framework formed by a working single mother, Naomi (Florence Taylor), a trusted caregiver, Uncle Henry (David Oswald), as well as a stranger, and the authorities who try to find out the truth.
“It [the play] describes a society that often finds itself complicit in the endangerment of its most fragile members,” Barlieb says.
“’Unspeakable’ has been created through years of interviews and collaboration with dedicated and caring child-welfare and law-enforcement professionals who themselves often share in these feelings of helplessness,” says Barlieb.
“The purpose,” Barlieb continues, “is to encourage widespread involvement in the protection of children. It takes only the slightest disregard to endanger a child, but it takes constant effort, fearless accountability, and tireless vigilance to protect them.”
“Unspeakable,” set in modern-New York City, addresses a pernicious crime that mars innocent children. The play is directed and co-produced by Barlieb and Wallace, co-founders of Crowded Kitchen Players, a Lehigh Valley-based theater troupe that addresses under-explored themes.
”Unspeakable” is the 13th play that Barlieb has written and the 79th production of Crowded Kitchen Players since it was founded in 2000.
In “Unspeakable,” for reasons unknown, Adam has abruptly stopped speaking to anyone except Uncle Henry, who picks him up after school, takes him to diners, and entertains him with fabulous stories until Adam’s mother, Naomi, gets home from work.
Their idyllic hours together are shattered when a man unknown to them begins following Adam and Henry wherever they go and furtively watches everything they do.
One man seeks to save a child. What the other man wants is “Unspeakable.”
The child victim, Adam, as a marionette, cannot speak, thus illustrating, according to Barlieb, the plight of child victims everywhere.
The lead players are Brian Wendt (Jerry), who is suspected of being a pedophile, Oswald (Uncle Henry) and Trish Cippoletti (Dr. Alison Blake), Jerry’s therapist.
“Jerry is a bit complex,” says Wendt. “He is coming to terms with a ‘relationship’ he encountered when he was about 10-years-old with a gentleman about 20 years older than him.”
The cast includes Julisa Trinidad (Elena Gomez, Lisa) and Paula Klein, Felecia White, Carla Hadley, Bruce Brown, Susan Burnette, Judy Evans, Tom Harrison, Nancy Walsh and Alexandra Racines.
The show’s sets are designed and built by Barlieb with assistance from Dennis Gillette and Kent Roberts. The music is written and is performed by Clark Ferguson.
“Unspeakable,” 8 p.m. March 22, 23, 29, 30 and 2 p.m. March 24, 31, Main Stage, Charles A. Brown Ice House, 56 River St., Bethlehem. Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org; 610-395-7176. Proceeds benefit Project Child of the Lehigh Valley, a program of Valley Youth House.