Silent Sky Deserves A Louder Audience

Silent Sky is Repertory Philippines’ or REP’s biography drama about astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt who made an astronomical breakthrough. Directed by REP Artistic Director Joy Virata, you can catch this amazing production from March 2 to 25 at the OnStage Theater in Greenbelt 1, Makati City.

Here’s the official synopsis of the play:

Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky is based on the true story of early 20th-century astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt who, together with a group of female scientists, was working as a “computer” (data entry clerk) at Harvard Observatory College. Despite women being forbidden from using the observatory’s telescope, this brilliant but unsung pioneer made astonishing discoveries as she mapped the distance between the stars, the earth, and other galaxies.

The cast is absolutely stellar. Each one of their interactions feel natural and organic and their chemistry shines like supernova.

Cathy Azanza as Henrietta Leavitt

Topper Fabregas as Peter Shaw

Caisa Borromeo as Margaret Leavitt

Sheila Francisco as Annie Cannon

Naths Everett as Williamina Fleming

There are two unseen characters in the show that drives the plot to its extremes. First is the father of Henrietta and the second is Dr. Pickering whom Henrietta works for.

Joey Mendoza was responsible for the set and costume design and he partnered with Bonsai Cielo for the costume design execution. Through their remarkable work, the duo was able to immerse the audience further into the 1890’s and the script was able to interweave these fashion elements into the story. Four time winner of the Gawad Buhay for Outstanding Lighting Design John Batalla kept the stars shining with his masterful lighting design. Jethro Joaquin was able to make the sound design crisp and clear while Adul Lasin who has worked 24 years for Rep was responsible for the scenic art execution and Winter David was able to sprinkle some star dust with his props execution and video design.

Comical, inspiring and intriguing until the very end. Silent Sky upscaled my expectations for theater and was able to transport me into the time when the theory of relativity impacted the landscape of scientific research while still being accessible for regular audience members through the obstacles of long distance relationships. Silent Sky is a theater production that you absolutely can’t miss.

The dialogue is terrific. In the opening act between Henrietta and Margaret, they go wide into hopes and dreams with layers of 1890’s references then funnels down to a conversation about pants. It sounds ridiculous but the execution was brilliant and it absolutely pays off and it will leave you smiling and laughing. Each of the characters did not waste their mics as they give some life lessons and quotable quotes which left me pondering about the people in my life.

An ensemble cast gave life to the characters as they bounce their chemistry off like basketball. Cathy Azanza pulls your heartstrings when complications turn into tragedy and gets you to cheer for her as she defies tradition and innovate the world of science. Naths Everett and Shiela Francisco add dynamic to the character of Henrietta while showing off their own dimensions as the story gives clues to their character arcs. Topper Fabregas gives a wonderful performance as an uptight, quirky and nerdy assistant of Dr. Pickering. I love the bit wherein he awkwardly stands in the office of the girls. No dialogue was spoken but the use body language communicated a very effective and laugh-out-loud visual gag. Topper and Cathy builds believable love tension that will make you ship them both. Something happens in their love story that might make you see Peter Shaw (Topper Fabregas) as a villain. This story arc was definitely heartbreaking and it certainly kept me at the edge of my seat. I didn’t expect Caisa Borromeo (as Margaret Leavitt) to stick around the play but her performance was excellent. She was Margaret’s silent hero and we see how this role slowly destroyed her inner personality.

I give plenty of praises as to how they creatively showed the long distance communication of Peter, Margaret and Henrietta. In these sequences, we slowly see the decay of relationships when limited communication becomes the problem. The transition from scene to scene and the way they smoothly transition from set to set while making the background stand out with plenty of small lights mimicking the constellations is a sight to behold.

This is truly an amazing production. It absolutely deserves the price of admission as well as the time you spend for it. The performances are stellar with the story and dialogue having intricate and entertaining layers to peel through. It’s inspiring, empowering, hilarious and heartbreaking.

Silent Sky gets a 9/10

Watch Repertory Phils play ‘Silent Sky’ At OnStage Greenbelt1 Mar. 2 to 25.

Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 3:30pm & 8pm

Sundays at 3:30pm

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