New York Theater

She joins a group that engages in exercises, rituals, and mutual support to heal hopes. Thea, whose mother was killed in the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie when she was six, certainly suffered a terrible trauma. Although there are only half a dozen members, the Fearless Warriors group has been meeting at the noisy New York City Buddhist Center for seven years now.

The dynamics of the group therapy and trauma have been further explored in the play “The Fears” written by Emma Sheanshang and produced by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. Mirror Circle’s Baker Annie and Sounds Mouth Small’s Bess play the characters who have lived through trauma, and their performances are both insightful and satisfying. The play touches on familiar and superficial aspects, but ultimately, it delves deeper into the trauma experienced by the characters. Some of the funniest moments in the play come from its quirky comedy and gentle satire, making the sound design courtesy of Soderbergh and Sheanshang’s play more effective. Overall, “The Fears” is an odd yet enjoyable play that fully explores the trauma and offers a fresh perspective on the subject.

New York Theater
Kerry Bishé, Jess Gabor and Carl Hendrick Louis

Thea is the one who often explains the group’s obscure exercises to others, acting as an example when she eventually tells the audience that “tree” is an acronym for Take a Relaxing Examine and Breath.

“Mark, it seems like you’re flirting with Rosa and I don’t agree,” says she, mimicking his twittish behavior. Rosa is known for her affection towards Fiz Louis and Carl (Mark’s decoded love interest), as Natalie (another member of the group) affirms. Rosa always seems to be in love with someone, as Mehran (Fiz’s therapist) decodes. Maia, acting like a small murmuring therapist, hits a small gong to start each session at the Buddhist center in Majorca, where she left a few months ago to run the center. Now, she leads the group, mostly comprised of individuals who became involved due to their own traumas, as Maddie portrays Corman.

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Algrant, directed by Dan, stages a mostly unimpressive part, with two unfortunate moments that do not trigger any discernible freaks theatrically. In the case that we don’t understand, we don’t understand every living moment that their traumas have affected. But we’re meant to stay “present” about the fact that they’re supposed to explain directly and not talk about it. Some hint at incest and child abuse, while others put me in juvey and came to the police when she started hitting and screaming, saying that I was deranged. Then she told my mother that I said she was attacked and my father raped me from the age of eleven to thirteen. Fiz and Thea are the exception with their traumas being even less clear to me; Rosa is a mother who works as a waiter, and Mark is an unsuccessful actor. We only learn bits and pieces about the characters, but there are a few revelations and twists over the course of the five weekly sessions.

Perhaps noise is just a funny thing, you know? Maybe the literal noise itself is a metaphor for the difficulty of finding peace in the present day. Appreciation and kudos to Jane Shaw, the sound designer at the Buddhist Center, for the cheerful conversations that can be heard through the open window, as well as the foul-mouthed conversations, trash collecting, and drilling. Throughout “The Fears,” the literal noise of New York City sets the tone for the characters, while also playing into the metaphorical “noise” of their words. In this way, we can picture them as vulnerable children, thinking about the potential harm that their words can cause to others, especially Maia. There are several suggestions for how these characters, and particularly Mehran Khaghani and Natalie Torres Woolams-Torres, can make their portrayals more absorbing and healing by adding humor. I began to wonder about the point of “The Fears” and found it more difficult to empathize with these characters, who seem to have suffered more than I have. However, the satirical treatment of the characters, which never feels meanspirited, helps to create vivid portraits from the sketchy script.

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New York Theater
The Fears, left to right: Mehran Khaghani, Maddie Corman, Robyn Peterson, Carl Hendrick Louis, Natalie Woolams-Torres

Daniel-Rader is portrayed by Suzannephotos in photos, while Peterson Robyn and Mark portray Louis Hendrick Carl Fiz as Khaghani Mehran. Katie is portrayed by Gabor Jess, Rosa is portrayed by Woolams-Torres Natalie, and Thea is portrayed by Bishé Kerry. Maia is portrayed by Corman Maddie. The cast includes Shaw Jane as the sound designer, Croiter Jeff as the lighting designer, Robinson C. David as the costume designer, and Winiarski Jo as the scenic designer. The play is directed by Algrant Dan and written by Sheanshang Emma. It will run from July 9th to 2023 at the Signature Fears Center Theater.

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