theatre.reviews

> Mojada, The Public Theater

…lovingly detailed backyard set — … with sound by Mikhail Fiksel — suggests a snug urban microcosm on the edge of chaos.

- Ben Brantley, The New York Times

What Mojada leaves audiences with, in its essential final moments, is neither story nor image nor dialogue but sound. Mikhail Fiksel's design bathes Mojada in defining soundscapes (the memories of Mexican ocean, the suffocation of New York sidewalks, the metallic dustiness of the border), but it is Medea whose voice rings out at the end, imitating the call of the Guaco bird. It is the cry of a woman seeking connection and meeting only — inevitably — with a country that does not hear her

- Dan Rubins, Curtain Up

Sound designer Mikhail Fiksel subtly brings in the Corona neighborhood as well as noises in the night on the trek from the Southern border.

- Victor Gluck, TheaterScene

> La Ruta, Steppenwolf Theater

Sound designer Mikhail Fiksel both amplifies Crotte’s voice while at the same time removing it from her body. In fact, in one moment, Crotte’s mouth stops moving as her voice continues to carry through the theatre. The result is haunting and parallels how this woman—and others like her—lives in the shadows.

- Trevor Boffone, Howl Around

> The Treasurer, Playwrights Horizons

Appropriately, it takes a while for characters other than the Son to come into physical view. We hear them before we see them, often through a filter that distorts and mechanizes human voices. (Mikhail Fiksel did the crucial sound design.) More often than not, conversations are conducted with an ear to the phone and eyes on a data-filled PC screen. And the lines between the personal and the technological are blurred in often inspired ways…

- Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Their relationship is mostly conducted via testy telephone calls, with Mikhail Fiksel’s scratchy sound design emphasising the awkwardness of the medium.

- Max McGuinness, Financial Times

> A Life, Playwrights Horizons

Anne Kauffman, in staging A Life, demonstrates nerves of steel. Rather than mitigate the stylistic and narrative discontinuities of the text, she heightens them, even daring at one point to suspend the stage action for several minutes of no movement at all. (In this she is greatly helped by Mikhail Fiksel, whose sound design is stupendous throughout.)

- Jesse Greene, Vulture

Sound designer Mikhail Fiksel adds to this with an authentic New York City apartment soundscape: People bound up and down stairs in the hallway, a television blares from an adjacent apartment, and a man shouts outside for a neighbor you've never met. When we are allowed to sit for several minutes listening to this soundscape, we begin to understand why Nate is so eager to block it out with the sound of his own voice.

- Zachary Stewart, TheaterMania

One doesn’t usually get to revel in the wonder of fantastic sound design like we are able to do here. It’s a testament to all the lives that are being lived around us. The quiet and the noise of all the lives that surround us, that we pay attention to, ignore, or simply tolerate. We are left wondering about our own life, the lives of others, and definitely wondering who and where Gary has gone?

- Front Mezz Junkies

> Learning Curve, Albany Park Theatre Project w/ Third Rail Projects

To say that the technical ambitions of “Learning Curve” are enormous would be a profound understatement. Charged with the task of designing for multiple simultaneous scenes across four floors and countless interactions that range from group art projects to intimate one-on-one encounters, composer and sound designer Mikhail Fiksel has created a gently suggestive and astonishingly attentive soundtrack that complements the action of each space while maintaining a contemplative yet restless atmosphere overall.

- Kevin Greene, New City

> Fulfillment, American Theater Company and The Flea Theatre

Fulfillment unfurls like a kind of bad fever dream, gorgeously accentuated by jagged percussive jazz from composer Mikhail Fiksel, about what lies underneath the surface of those living in privilege ... and the horrifically real sound design provided by Miles Polaski and composer Fiksel. These two artists make the noises emanating from the apartment above Michael’s painfully real and unbearably annoying. It's a cacophony that paves the way to this marvelous play's tragic end.

- Andy Propst, American Theatre Web

McSweeny's production is dynamic, visually imaginative and never dull for so much as a second, and it does have its moments of enlightenment (Mikhail Fiksel and Miles Polaski's sound design is a sensual feast).

- Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

Mikhail Fiksel and Miles Polaski's artful sound design clearly alludes to the unconscious, pervading thoughts from which Michael cannot escape--and Fiksel's original compositions help give the production a sleek, urban vibe.

- Rachel Weinburg, Broadwayworld.com

> The Old Man and The Old Moon, Pigpen Theatre

Sound designer Mikhail Fiksel makes a lot of noises worthy of mention, but my favorites are the dripping sound of the leaky moon and the creaky doors of the boat shop. Every sound effect is perfectly synchronized with the accompanying visual, and the mix between vocals and instruments offers an audible blend, allowing an appreciation of both lyrics and music

- Nancy Grossman, Broadwayworld.com

> Water by The Spoonful, The Old Globe

Fiksel’s incorporation of moody jazz heightens tension, especially in confrontations between Elliot and a mysterious ghost (M. Keala Milles, Jr.). Hudes has mentioned in interviews that jazz partially influenced her piece, and the use of this music genre only adds to the richness of the interpretation.

- David Dixon, The Daily Aztec

> Venus in Fur, Goodman Theatre

And speaking of resonance, sound designer Mikhail Fiksel draws unexpected nuance out of periodic thunderclaps. Like every other aspect of the play, his cloud rumblings run a gamut from running gag to revelation.

- Tony Adler, Chicago Reader

> Kill Me, Wildclaw Theatre

Sound as a theatrical element is often overlooked, even though it is incredibly crucial. This is especially true in the horror genre, where a perfectly tuned soundscape can mean the difference between shrieks of terror and peals of laughter. Mikhail Fiksel’s and Scott Tallarida, sound designers for Wildclaw Theatre’s world premiere production of “Kill Me” by Scott Barsotti, understand the importance of sound. Their superb handling of that element outshines most other shows in town... The aforementioned sound design, which emanates mostly from a gutted turned-up piano and a surrounding assembly of instruments that suggests they found Dick Van Dyle from the old Mary Poppins movie, skinned him alive, then hung him out to dry.

- Alex Huntsberger, Centerstage

> The Real Thing, Writers Theatre

That arc is accompanied by Mikhail Fiksel’s seamless sound-design, a mix of classical and ’60s pop that ebbs and flows back and forth from the tinny tones of Henry’s transistor radio to a rich, theater-engulfing soundscape, an alternating current of sound that serves as a sonic reflection of the ever-shifting relationships on stage.

- Catey Sullivan, Lincolnshire Review

> Winter Pageant 2010, Redmoon Theatre

This year's pageant (which features a rather beguiling little original score from Mikhail Fiksel) is not only much more musically involved than prior Redmoon shows, but far better sung. There are especially appealing performances from Carly Ciarrocchi, who plays Winter, and Kasey Foster, who plays Rita (no season for her, alas). And it will come as a relief to even hard-core Redmoon fans that the new-agey sounds have been banished in favor of a bit of classic rock ‘n' roll.

- Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

> Old Town, Strawdog Theatre Company

Fiksel's jazzy score, [is] characterized by the offbeat, sometimes abrasive instrumental textures of his band, the Denizens. The melodies and thick harmonies of his music have a scruffy, oddball feel that suits Neveu's words, making the songs sound like inevitable extensions of the spoken dialogue.

- Albert Williams, Chicago Reader

> The Cherry Orchard, Strawdog Theatre Company

And as always, company sound designer Mikhail Fiksel finds new ways to slowly release sound into the world of the play, like a cautiously opened hissing soda can you don’t want to shoot out of control. The distant chirping of birds that underscores a moment of hot three-way courtship among the serfs or a haunted memory that floods over the estate’s flighty matriarch during a reunion with her drowned son’s former tutor showcases Fiksel’s ability to remain invisible and vital at once.

- Christopher Piatt, Time Out Chicago

> The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, Collaboraction

Collaboraction has scored shows before -- this one has original music by Mikhail "Misha" Fiksel, played live on electric guitar by Wayne Braswell. But whereas Collaboraction's prior fusions have often felt inorganic, Fiksel's music sets this script on fire. The pumping soundtrack raises the stakes and forces the show to keep up. And it lets Shin find the right techno-beat for her hyperlinked Jenny, a woman who conducts an entire world-changing life on a bedroom computer.

- Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

> A Lie of the Mind, Strawdog Theatre Company

Carefully styled performances make for an engaging, well-paced two hours; they're ably complemented by Mikhail Fiksel's spaghetti western score performed live on two heavily reverbed guitars and a trumpet.

- Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader

> Fake Lake, The NeoFuturists

Composer/Sound Designer Mikhail Fiksel takes the potential acoustic nightmare of the cavernous room and creates the perfect audio balance while accenting the experience with exceptional original music.

- Venus Zarris, Chicago Stage Review

> True Ballad of Fall’s Blessings, Strawdog Theatre Company

Musical director Mikhail Fiksel makes his seven-piece band an indispensable part of the story; their six bluegrass, folksy songs adding depth to the proceedings. The band is also a part of the play, ghostly western figures wandering with their instruments throughout.

- Rick Reed, Windy City Times