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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

 

Large Print Theatre presents

 

Silence

 

 

by Moira Buffini

 

Directed by Jonathan Bradshaw

Composer and Sound Designer – Thomas Gray

Lighting Designer and Technician – William Ingham

 

Jack Studio Theatre

 

Tuesday 5 - Saturday 23 March
 

Ymma of Normandy (Brigid Lohrey) convincingly dry-wretches her way around the stage while her hapless maid Agnés (Lainey Shaw) trots behind her apologetically, setting the scene for a bewildered audience, hauled irreverently into the Dark Ages. Banished from France by her intolerant and intolerable brother, Ymma has been sent to England to receive her punishment. Perpetually exhausted, slovenly King Ethelred (Daniel Brennan) who tires at even the thought of his duties has been charged with deciding on the method of torture and chooses marriage to the child-ruler of Cumbria, Silence (Samantha Béart). The problem of consummation proves insurmountable beyond reason and a weave of relationships which spurs on the action in the play is thus borne.

Three long paintings of trees with a luminous holographic effect create a strange expanse on a relatively small stage. Minimal props, some chests and a few scatter-cushions, are enough to insinuate King Ethelred’s scarcely cold bed and the cart on which the company travel through the perilous countryside en-route to Silence’s Cumbrian residence. Roger, a Priest (Theo Maggs) and Eadric, the King’s Man (Patrick Neyman) complete the troop, both loosely acting as dubious protectors of different types. Variously interspersed affections are borne out through burdened sleeping arrangements and a session on mystic mushrooms, all heavenly laden with a looming sense of danger.

My companion noted a dash of Monty Python in the comedic juxtaposition between Medieval costuming and modern straight-talking, as when Ymma exclaims; “Kent – what a dump” or “boys have bollox”. The production is directed with detail and finesse by Jonathan Bradshaw. The faint sound of a fly buzzing at King Ethelred’s every appearance is a more subtle indication of his unkempt condition than his mere luxuriousness alone portrays.

Silence, Lord of Cumbria endears from the off, inextricably enthralled with her homeland and with all the verbal valour imaginable in a child-ruler. The relationship formed between Silence and Ymma of Normandy after King Etherled matches them for punishment is complex and engaging and remains at the root of the other secondary relationships within the play. Amidst intense exploration of the role of women in male dominated spheres while repressed by feudal society, sovereign spheres and religious intrusion, Buffini’s impressive script offers moments of unbridled hilarity which are utilised to their full potential in this stirring production.

 

 

Tickets: £13, £10 concs.   

Box office: 0844 8700 887

Book online: 
www.brockleyjack.co.uk
 
Jack Studio Theatre
 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH
 

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