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'Sotto Voce' Performance. Shakespeare & Company, 2016. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier

Droves of immigrants are forced to leave their native lands, hoping to seek refuge in another country. When they arrive, they learn that the country they’ve landed upon does not want them. Sound familiar? It could well be a story ripped from current headlines and in fact, it is. Presumably, Shakespeare & Company chose to stage Nilo Cruz’s Sotto Voce due to its’ modern political overtones.  Or, they wanted a vehicle to showcase the wonderful Massachusetts based actor, Annette Miller. Whatever their reasons, they have hit a high note with Cruz’s beautiful play.

Sotto Voce takes poetic license but is based on a real event that occurred in 1939 when the German liner St. Louis carried 937 passengers to Cuba. Their intent was to stay in Cuba until they could enter the United States. However, only 22 were allowed off the boat. The rest were forced to return to European countries that were later dominated by Hitler’s regime.

In Cruz’s story, we meet Bernadette Kahn (Miller), a well-known novelist who last saw her lover, Ariel and his sister when they boarded the ship in Germany.  Now in her eighties, Bernadette receives a phone call from a young writer, Saquiel (Jaime Carillo), who found letters that Bernadette had written to his grandfather.  A guarded Bernadette refuses to meet face to face and only communicates via phone and email, in spite of her housekeeper Lucilla’s (Evelyn Howe) suggestion that the two connect in person.

'Sotto Voce' Performance. Shakespeare & Company, 2016. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier
‘Sotto Voce’ Performance. Shakespeare & Company, 2016. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier

Eventually, Cruz’s romantic language emerges as Bernadette imagines Saquiel as her lost lover. It is during these imagined sequences that solidifies Cruz as a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize winner. His use of words is profound and deeply moving.

Director Daniel Gidron has done an excellent job of delineating realistic and fantasy sequences and navigates his ship with a masterful hand. Although Miller carries the weight of the show, Carillo and Howe hold their own with aplomb.

'Sotto Voce' Performance. Shakespeare & Company, 2016. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier
‘Sotto Voce’ Performance. Shakespeare & Company, 2016. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier

Like the word itself, Sotto Voce is a subtle, hushed show with deep political and social implications that Shakespeare and Company has rightfully made sing once again with this stirring production.

Sotto Voce runs through September 11th at Shakespeare and Company (70 Kemble Street, Lenox, Mass.) For tickets and information on this, and other shows currently runnning visit http://www.shakespeare.org/ 

The Gateways Inn 

Although Shakespeare and Company is a short drive North of Manhattan and is easily accessible for day trips, there is much to see and do year round in the bucolic Berkshires. Those wishing to take in any of their shows or visit other quaint towns near Lenox may consider a stay at Gateways Inn.

Originally built by Harley Proctor (of the famed Proctor and Gamble dynasty), this exquisite edifice now serves as a bed and breakfast. Time and again, this privately owned establishment has received rave reviews on trip advisor, wine spectator, AAA, Fodor’s and other esteemed outlets. It is no small wonder. From the moment you enter, you’re treated like family by the gracious hosts, Michele and Eiran Gazit.

Photo courtesy of The Gateways Inn.
Photo courtesy of The Gateways Inn.

Though it appears to be massive from the outside, the Inn only contains 11 bedrooms, but they are clean, charming, and spacious. Choose from King or Queen Size bed options …whatever your preference, your inner child will smile with glee over the Teddy Bears that guard the bedspreads. The décor hearkens back to the gilded age and most spaces have either a gas or electric fireplace (perfect for fall and winter romantic getaways). In the bathroom, you’ll find a rubber ducky in the shower and, in some cases, a jacuzzi.

What truly makes the Gateways so unique however, is its nod to the Bard. With the help of the staff at Shakespeare and Company, each room is named for a Shakespearean character, engraved in a gold plaque on each door. In addition, guests can read a brief description of the rooms main characters in the welcome book prominently displayed on the dresser.

Photo courtesy of The Gateways Inn.
Photo courtesy of The Gateways Inn.

If you’ve already made accommodations at other venues, Gateways Inn is still worth a stop. Live entertainment, including TV and film star John Davidson, performs on a nightly basis in the relaxed, but elegant lounge area.

Whiskey drinkers will be wowed by the bar’s 200 plus whiskey selection (Incidentally, bartender Lori Weitzman makes a fabulous Bulleit Manhattan—and serves it with a cheery disposition!). Full course menu options are also available in the dining room and the menu changes on a seasonal basis.

During a recent visit, I was treated to a 4 course meal that began with a creamy chilled carrot soup followed by an arugula salad. The striped bass trout followed and was prepared w/ a subtle, but not overpowering lemon butter. The delicious meal ended with an adequate lemon-blueberry cheesecake.

Photo courtesy of The Gateways Inn.
Photo courtesy of The Gateways Inn.

The Gateways Inn also accommodates weddings and special events and is located in the heart and hubbub of the Berkshires, a stone’s throw from Shakespeare and Company. Fear not the noise, however. The Inn will fulfill it’s purpose to rejuvenate. As Prospero once said in The Tempest, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

For rates and reservations, visit https://www.gatewaysinn.com/