“Seriously, can I just yell out ‘Jello’ as the sound effect when Kathryn mentions the PBJ sandwich?” sound effects artist Brandon Daley asks in frustration.
Sound effects are important in any play — but more so in Kid-Simple, described as “a radio play in the flesh.” Daley and director Chelsea Taylor, both Communication freshmen, have been figuring out what sound effects to use to bring the script for this year’s Jones show to life.
Kid-Simple stars Communication sophomore Emily Marso as girl genius and inventor Moll. She wins her high school science fair with a machine dubbed the Third Ear, which hears sounds that can’t be heard by humans. The Third Ear is a remarkably odd contraption made up of a stethoscope, headphones as big as earmuffs and a satellite-looking disc. But when this invention falls in the evil hands of a shape-shifting mercenary, played by Jordan Johnson, Moll and Oliver, the last boy-virgin in the eleventh grade, must embark on a thrilling journey to save noise, as we know it.
The small cast of six actors and actresses commented that they loved the “shock value” that sound effects take on within the play.
“I’m not sure where I exist in the show. I feel like I’m both a minor and a major character at the same time, because of how centered the play is around the sound effects,” Daley says.
As the foley artist, Daley sits at the back of the stage surrounded by odd bits of sound equipment. He’s had to reproduce the sounds of hair gel being smoothed back, someone “pleasuring another’s toes” and a heart beating with an arrhythmia condition. His instruments include a pair of high heels, sandpaper, balloons, drums and even his own voice. To imitate a cat being hurled out the window, Daley makes a cat-like screech that halts when he drops a heavy book over a table.
“The hardest part for me is near the end, when I have to replace the actors’ words with sound effects. It’s difficult to time them to be perfectly in sync with each other,” Daley says.
Overall, Daley believes that the sound effects add to the bizarre quality of the show. “I’ll use my saliva to make weird sounds, like the hair gel sounds and the making out bits. They’re weird. Any sound involving sexuality is quite bizarre, and there’s a lot of that in this play. “
SESP freshman Katherine Bailey, who plays Moll’s mother and three other characters, says, “This is my first time doing a radio play. I feel that up till now, we (as an audience) have completely taken sounds for granted. I’m excited to see how the audience will respond to it.”
Taylor decided on this play because of its uniqueness and bizarre story lines, but also because audience members will relate to Kid-Simple.
“I think the audience can identify with the characters because even though the show is really crazy and different from real life. It is about finding your own faults rooted in human nature and learning to overcome or work with them,” Taylor says.
Kid-Simple opens this weekend in the Jones Great Room with performances Thursday May 13 at 8 p.m., and Friday May 14 and Saturday May 15 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Tickets are $5 for Northwestern students but free for Jones residents. Students can purchase tickets at the door.