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Susurrus: A Play without Actors

Theater that’s a walk in the park—literally


Photo courtesy of David Leddy

If you like the theater, but don’t feel like spending a warm spring evening inside, consider heading down to Boston’s Public Garden for what may be one of the most unusual theatrical experiences you’ll ever have.

Scottish playwright David Leddy’s Susurrus, presented by ArtsEmerson, is a radio play with a twist, inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Audience members are handed a map, an MP3 player, and a set of headphones and embark on a journey to eight separate locations throughout the Public Garden as they immerse themselves in this contemporary retelling of the Bard’s story of love and loss.

Participants pause at such places as the bridge across the Public Garden lagoon, the Ether Monument, and the Swan Boats as they listen to actors’ recorded voices interspersed with audio of chirping birds and music featuring Edith Piaf, Cole Porter, Pan Sonic, and selections from the Benjamin Britten opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sites have been chosen to complement the text, and the whole theatrical experience takes a bit less than 90 minutes to complete.

Susurrus (pronounced suss-YOO-russ) refers to the murmuring sound made by wind in trees. The play, first staged in Glasgow in 2006, is in Boston through the weekend. From here it will travel to Wales and then Brazil.

Susurrus will play through Sunday, June 5; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Headphone pickup is on Boylston Street, between Charles and Tremont Streets. Tickets are $25 and directions are provided with purchase; recommended for ages 16 and older. More information is here or call ArtsEmerson at 617-824-8400.

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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