What's it about?
Sonder is about a newly engaged couple who move into their first home together only to find that all of the previous tenants' possessions are still there. In looking through their things, they get to experience the life and love between the former couple -Mark and Sam - bringing their relationship to life for all of us to witness.
What I experienced?
Imagine walking into your newly purchased home to find everything that the previous owners had remains, as if they never moved out. What would be your initial response? Annoyance? Fear? Excitement that you hit the furniture jackpot and there is no longer a need to purchase anything new? Now, I imagine whatever your initial response was wouldn't be the same if you found out the couple who lived there before died. I don't know about you but I would be grabbing whatever I own and sprinting out of there! I've seen enough horror movies to know that houses have way too much history.
The word sonder, as defined by the playwright Dan Moldovan, means 'the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.' This definition alone made me super curious to see this show. In theory, we all are aware of this. The people around us have their own lives and stories to tell that could be like ours or drastically different. What was so eye-opening about this production's take on this idea was the fact that just by getting to know a person's history, through photos and different kinds of memorabilia, you can actually grow to love them as if you've always known them. The newly engaged and moved-in couple (who are actually name-less in the play) find photos, journals and even tape recordings among Mark and Sam's possessions and they grow this uncanny attachment to them.
What floored me about this production and left me weeping in my chair, was the way the characters interconnected on stage. Although Mark and Sam are no longer living in the house, we see them moving and conversing on stage, giving us an inside view on their life together. As the new couple read the journal entries Mark wrote for Sam, we see him sit in the chair writing them or recording various voice memos in little snippets before Sam catches him - both he plans to give him as gifts later in their relationship (HOW CUTE IS THAT?!). All four characters are seen on stage - Mark and Sam kind of like ghosts, mingling together in perfect harmony and it was so moving to see how just sharing the same space connected them all together.
Mark and Sam were #RELATIONSHIPGOALS. The more that's revealed about them and the more we see them interact, the more I verbally swooned. And I think that's exactly why the new couple grows so attached. Their love radiates through the words written on a page, through the recordings of their day-to-day conversations and through their vows that were secretly recorded. I found myself thinking, please come back to the house! I want all four of you to become best friends and go on double dates and live in this house together! (The hopeless romantic in me can be a little bit excessive sometimes)
Finding out that Mark and Sam died in a plane crash heading to their honeymoon not only crushed the couple who grew to love them but also me as an audience member. It felt like I had invested so much emotion into a relationship that would never even experience life post wedding day. But then, I left the theatre feeling conflicted. It's a beautiful idea to acknowledge that everyone we pass on the street has a story but without rummaging through their belongings, how do we get an inside view? Is it through a conversation about their childhood and their favorite memories? Or is the point not to actually know their life but to acknowledge that they have one? Regardless of all these questions, with no obvious answers, this play to me was more than a love story between two couples but it was about taking a moment to acknowledge that everyone, even people we'll never meet, has a life and reality we might never know but it's still beautiful to know they have one.
Want to see it?
What did you experience?
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