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The Sound of a Voice.Rich in silence, sparing of words — though the words that come are sometimes unexpectedly ordinary, given the hushed and mysterious setting — The Sound of a Voice is based on Japanese folklore. It is on one level an exploration of human love and loneliness, as a warrior comes to kill the hermit whom locals have stigmatized as a witch, stays at her home and interacts with her in nine brief, ambiguous and evocative scenes. Every night, Man's sleep is troubled by strange sounds and the haunting music of a shakuhachi, a kind of flute. Scene by scene, the protagonists explore the possibility of love, sparring (literally, at one point), talking, retreating, even joking a little, scrubbing together at a persistent stain on the floor, Man periodically preparing to leave while Woman begs for his continued company. Objects take on intense significance, most particularly the perennially fresh and glowing flowers that Woman tends with grace and passion and that Man fears contain the trapped souls of travelers who came before him. Though Woman insists she is not a witch, it's clear that supernatural forces are at work, though they may be intended by playwright David Henry Hwang as metaphors for the universal uncertainties of love. "I create a world which is outside the realm of what you know," Woman tells Man. Michael Andrew Doherty lends his meditative musicality on the shakuhachi, and dancers Kim Robards and Gregory Gonzales perform between scenes, adding resonance and depth. The actors' approach hovers somewhere between realistic and kabuki-stylized; both tamp down their emotions until they simply become too strong to contain. Presented by Paragon Theatre through June 5, 1387 South Santa Fe Drive, 303-914-6458, Reviewed May 13.

Up. In 1982, an ordinary working guy named Larry Walters, obsessed with fantasies of flight, tied helium balloons to a lawn chair, equipped himself with water bottles for ballast, beer and sandwiches, and a pellet gun to deflate the balloons as needed for descent. Walters expected to float perhaps thirty feet into the air, but instead ascended 16,000 feet at breathtaking speed. Playwright Bridget Carpenter deals with the aftermath of his adventure, stressing the dreariness and smallness of everyday life as her hero, here named Walter Griffin, refuses to get a job and fights to keep his dream of invention alive, while his son, Mikey, flounders in high school and Helen, his wife, supports the family through the trudging work of a mail carrier. The famed tightrope walk of Philippe Petit between the Twin Towers serves as a metaphoric link, and Petit periodically appears, walking a light-illuminated, simulated tightrope above the stage, to encourage Griffin in his dreams of flight. Despite some interesting interweaving of themes, almost everything in the script is deployed too narrowly in the service of the central idea, which means the characters never come alive or really surprise you. Presented by Curious Theatre Company through June 18, 1080 Acoma Street, 303-623-0524, Reviewed May 20.

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