There have been many plays and performances, and pieces of art, that explore the Covid-19 pandemic. FOUND, part of 45North’s Written on the Waves series, is an audio play, with an interactive blog experience, that explores the experience of a young woman, Ziazan, played by Jessie Bedrossian.
Written by Abi Zakarian, the play consists of blog extracts from different days, written by the main character. Within this blog, the inner thoughts and emotions of Ziazan are explored, with stories, flashbacks, and experiences mixed in. The story takes the listener to interesting places, and down routes that are unexpected, but work, because they are just like the randomness of life. Yet, there is also a common thread that runs through, linking everything into a believable cohesion.
The piece, co-directed by Emily Carewe and Jessica Rose McVay, keeps the audience engaged. Bedrossian’s vocal tone is captivating and feels very human, making the character of Ziazan relatable. For the most part, the same tone, pace, and pitch is used, meaning that when scenes become more emotional, the intensity only needs to increase to a natural and realistic level. This keeps the credibility of the piece intact, and gives greater depth to the emotional moments.
There are sections when other character’s voices are heard; a variety of accents and tones keep interest and help distinguish between characters, as well as placing them in their cultural/social/political context. A short filmed section of characters on zoom features in the piece as well. This section fitted well into the story and interactive audience experience, but did feel a little staged, jarring with the rest of the piece.
Also, visually seeing the character of Ziazan broke some of the magic of the rest of the piece, and disengaged the audience’s imagination that is so essential to the piece’s success. In a way, it felt as though the audience was being supplied with something they already had, and removed them from a first to a third person type experience.
The sound design by Anna Short was excellent, especially the ambient noises that built the atmosphere. Coupled with illustrations by Katie Gabriel Allen, the design elements of FOUND are detailed and well thought out. Clearly a lot of hard work and dedication has gone into the piece.
FOUND is strangely both heartwarming and unsettling. The cast and production team have created a piece that is a human experience. The audio really enables the audience to get inside the character’s head, with the words being so open and honest, and delivered with deep vulnerability.
FOUND is available from Written on the Waves