Silent Snow, Secret Snow | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Silent Snow, Secret Snow 

Mom & Dad Productions, at Cafe Voltaire

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SILENT SNOW, SECRET SNOW, Mom & Dad Productions, at Cafe Voltaire. With its strong characters, economical storytelling, and mastery of the language, Conrad Aiken's moody minor masterpiece "Silent Snow, Secret Snow," about a teenage boy who slips into his own little world, is a great story for introducing adolescents to literature. Those qualities also make it a fine choice for stage adaptation, especially when the adapter is Frank Walters, who isn't afraid of words, and the director is Joe Feliciano: despite a tendency to indulge in gratuitous dance sequences, he gives Aiken's playful, poetic language lots of room to live and breathe and suck us in.

From the first lines of the tale--"Listen! We will tell you the last, the most beautiful and secret story"--Feliciano, Walters, and Aiken have got us hooked. Of course, it helps that much of the beautiful narration is spoken here with haunting seductiveness by Laura Berry. And that the rest of Feliciano's intelligent, well-tempered cast gives just enough to make their characters live, but not so much that they seem too large in Cafe Voltaire's intimate space. Stan Lee's performance as the troubled Paul is the very model of well-crafted restraint; with a few subtle gestures--the movement of a hand, a slightly altered facial expression--he communicates volumes about his character's descent into snow-blind madness.

--Jack Helbig

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