The Sound Inside Audible Audiobook – Original recording
Tony, Golden Globe, and Emmy Award winner Mary-Louise Parker stars in what The New York Times calls “a gripping mystery” about Bella Baird, a novelist and Ivy League English professor who prizes her solitude. When faced with a challenge she cannot tackle alone, Bella must ally herself with a brilliant but mysterious student (William Hochman) and confront the question of what one person can truly do for another. Intensely intimate and deeply moving, Adam Rapp’s haunting play received resounding acclaim during its Broadway run at Studio 54 and was nominated for six Tony Awards. Now available only on Audible, The Sound Inside is a “vital, compassionate and rivetingly theatrical drama about tragedy and redemption, sacrifice and loss, the bright blaze of artistic creation and the sadness of an unknowable stranger” (The Hollywood Reporter).
Directed by David Cromer.
Music by Daniel Kluger by arrangement with peermusic
Portions of this audiobook contain mature language and themes. Listener discretion is advised.
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|Listening Length||1 hour and 24 minutes|
|Narrator||Mary-Louise Parker, Will Hochman|
|Audible.com Release Date||March 18, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank||
#126,332 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#350 in Drama & Plays (Audible Books & Originals)
#915 in United States Literature
#1,142 in American Dramas & Plays
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Bella always starts her creative writing class with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment: “Discussions about Raskolnikov never disappoint.” One day, while the class is engaged in discussion of the murder scene, a young man, Christopher, who seldom speaks, blurts out, “Someday I’m going to write a moment like that.” With this, the play segues from monologue to dialogue.
Christopher appears at her office outside stated office hours. He hadn’t emailed asking for an appointment because he hates email. Twitter too. “A hundred and forty f***ing characters. Limitation is the mother of invention? It’s more like the mother of mental syphilis!” They end up talking about Raskolnikov. The conversation isn’t easy. She’s aloof. He’s prickly. The next day, he’s back. Another conversation. It finally comes out: he wanted to talk to her because he’s started a novel. He just has the first scene so far but his description of it impresses her. A few more visits and the questions start to get personal, which is disturbing to Bella who holds off engagement with real humans as though it were contagious. Why is she so isolated, Christopher asks. Does she have any friends? She doesn’t say so but no she doesn’t. She isn’t even sure of the first name of the visiting professor in the graduate architecture program with whom she plays tennis every Tuesday. She learns s little about his life: mother, a successful mystery novelist who rarely goes lout, may be agoraphobic; a father he hasn’t seen since he was five. He tells her he read her novel and loved it. He wants to know when the next one is coming out. But it isn’t. She isn’t writing anything anymore. They talk. Books, books, books. But they’re really edging around talking about relationships, their relationship, what are they to each other, can two unhappy people relate to each other, maybe assuage their shared loneliness, though they never come out and say any of this. There’s one moment when they touch but it passes. The next time she sees him in class, he’s distant. She hadn’t betrayed him, but she hadn’t done anything.
Events unfold. Bella describes a ghastly one-night stand, which did nothing to ease her loneliness. Shortly after, she collapses and has to be taken to the hospital to recover. While she’s there, she gets a card from Christopher with a photo of Dostoevsky on it and a note inside, deliberately casual, almost flippant, like young unsure college boys write to hide feeling. Before she leaves the hospital, her doctor tells her she has a one out of five chance of surviving her cancer. She doesn’t teach again until the next semester and in the meantime she decides to commit suicide, rather than suffer like her mother had at the end. She finds a suicide kit: you order it on line. You take one drug to knock yourself out and two more to paralyze your respiratory system and stop your heart. You need a helper for steps two and three. She invites Christopher to dinner. Before she can tell him she wants him to help her die, he tells her he’s finished his book. It’s a novella now, not a novel. The title is To Lie Facedown in a Field of Snow. He asks if she’ll read it. She unloads her bombshell on him and then they talk through his manuscript, reading passages en route. Christopher is worried about the ending. She says don’t worry, the book is amazing. Then Christopher helps her administer the first drug and she tells us, she fell asleep.
Seventeen hours later she wakes up and Christopher is gone. The second and third syringes rest on a chair, unadministered.
She never sees Christopher again. He doesn’t show up in class: someone finds his body on the New Haven Green, face down in the snow, he died of hypothermia. Her life continues. At her next checkup, the doctor informs her that her cancer is in remission: the tumors are almost all gone. She reads Christopher’s novella from start to finish: “It’s one of the most honest things I’ve ever read,” she says. She muses about his death. Did it mean anything?
The play ends. The (unexpressed) implication is: what does have meaning? Anything at all? Or maybe everything?
A beautiful play, and very moving.