An Undeveloped Sound: an overwritten script

publicity photo for An Undeveloped Sound

An enigmatic figure called The Little One (Photo by David Cooper)

Exquisitely directed and designed, and responsively acted, An Undeveloped Sound is, nonetheless, thematically repetitive and therefor dull.

Jonathon Young has set his new script in a call centre located in a crumbling, repurposed commercial outlet near an ocean. In my mind, it was in an abandoned strip mall.

There, four characters stonewall angry callers who have invested in a development. The callers want to know what’s happening with their units and when they’ll be able to move in. The employees cheerfully reassure the callers that they can see the investors’ non-existent units from where they’re sitting and, when the questioning gets insistent, they put the callers on hold.

So the set-up is about a false narrative — and that quickly expands into a larger thematic statement about the fallibility of all narratives, all ways of understanding, of attempting to connect. A newcomer named Heidi is seducing a hapless worker named Wade, but is her interest sincere or malign? Bell, once the star spokesperson for the project, desperately clings to the performance of a hope she no longer feels. A parent-child relationship has fallen apart. One’s fellow workers are not to be trusted. Language itself is suspect, a poor approximation of meaning. And, underlying all of this is a critique of the manipulativeness of capitalism.

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