Monday, 21 April 2014
Five Kinds of Silence | OpticNerve
Written by Melita Pereira   
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 23:44
Five Kinds of Silence | OpticNerveDaring, innovative and disturbing, Five Kinds of Silence is a play which seeks to shatter the silence around physical violence and sexual abuse.

OpticNerve's production of Shelagh Stephenson's Five Kinds of Silence is a powerful and "disturbing journey into the hidden vortex of familial violence and sexual abuse". The play delves into the lives of Billy, his wife Mary and their two daughters Susan and Janet, revealing how their individual experiences coalesce into their collective reality. Originally written for radio, it is a story propelled by a desire to expose the "destructive cycle of silence and abuse". As the story unravels, Emmaline Caroll as Janet and Ella Watson-Russell as Susan, eviscerate the devastation and distress their characters have endured as a result of their abusive father.

Five Kinds of Silence is visually-arresting. In director Tanya Gerstle's rendition of Stephenson's play, the character's horrendous reality is rendered multidimensional through the visual representation of the actors. Grant Cartwright as Billy, Anne-Louise Sarks as Mary, and Carroll and Watson-Russell physically manifest the anguish and torment which ensnares their characters through sophisticated movement and physical acting. In accordance with Gerstle's bid to elicit a visceral response from the audience, the characters contort and leer, shrink into distorted foetal positions and grip the ground with their bare nails. This visual manifestation of their emotional state makes their intense discomfort and grief palpable to the audience.

The disturbing Billy is deftly embodied by Grant Cartwright who savagely rattles the cages of memory and experience which imprison Mary, Susan and Janet. Cartwright makes his entrance by bursting onto the stage and prowling like a dog. Convulsing and shuddering, his encapsulation of the abusive Billy is revolting and terrifying. Ella Watson-Russell portrays Susan with haunting numbness and presence. Her disclosures, which pivotally disrupt the silence that has shrouded her family life, are tactfully-pitched and delivered with forceful sincerity. The continual oscillation between Billy and Mary's childhood experiences of abuse and Susan and Janet's present abuse operate to both delineate and undo the tightly wound cycle of abuse in the play.

OpticNerve's production of Five Kinds of Silence was bolstered by its effective and apt choice of venue. During the course of the play, the space of Fortyfivedownstairs is repeatedly re-visioned and transformed. Seemingly harmless and previously unnoticed fixtures are employed by the cast, making the space of Fortyfivedownstairs suddenly eerie and garish. Like the use of movement and physical acting, this inventive use of space creatively extends the themes of silence and complacency, situating the audience in the action and grabbing their attention.

Five Kinds of Silence resonates with its radio origins. Stephenson's dialogue reverberates with strong and razor-edged language, capable of delineating the story while also evocatively inciting an emotional response. However, it is the emboldened performances in Five Kinds of Silence which make it such a thought-provoking and memorable piece of theatre. OpticNerve's Five Kinds of Silence is an exceptional and multifaceted production, replete with intelligence, talent and courage.


OpticNerve Performance Group
Five Kinds of Silence
by Shelagh Stephenson

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates/Times: 26/6 – 6/7, Tues – Sat 8pm, Sat/Sun 5pm
Cost: $25 Full / $20 Concession
Bookings: 03 9662 9966 or www.fortyfivedownstairs.com  
Pin It

Comments (1)

Subscribe to this comment's feed
...
0
I agree. Powerful, powerful stuff. See this before it finishes. See it!
Brian G , July 01, 2008

Write comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy
 
PozibleAustralian Stage JobsMembers Area
 

More 2014 Comedy Festival Reviews

Circus Under My Bed | Flying Fruit Fly Circus
The Flying Fruit Fly Circus’ latest Circus Under My Bed, part of the Melbourne...
Wake In Sleight | Reginald D Hunter
Maybe it's because Reginald D Hunter wants to be known as a man who needs no i...
Waiting For My Real Life... | Colin Hay
Hay must have been born under a lucky star which has enabled him with the gift...
Kraken | Don't Be Lonely and Theatre Beating
Kraken looks simple in its make-up, but it packs a mighty punch. One man, one...
Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas | The Axis of Awesome
Rocking their unique brand of musical comedy and gaining fans from around the...
Death in Bowengabbie
Much of the strength in this production lies with how vividly the characters a...
Like Me, Love Me, Retweet Me | Jordana Borensztajn
Borensztajn has warmth and charm, and she’s a confident and very likeable pres...
FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out | Zoe McDonald
What McDonald has created is a finely tuned performance where each intricate m...
Puppetry of The Penis Live
Making their grand entrance onto the stage, clad only in velvet superhero-like...
Fool's Gold | Frank Woodley
There are far worse things you could do with an hour or so of your life than w...
A Stupid Liar | Lawrence Mooney
With his latest show, he's not so much A Stupid Liar as he is brutally honest...
What Does the K Stand For? | Stephen K Amos
There are some artists that you can always count on to make you laugh, the cal...

Most Read MELBOURNE Reviews

What Does the K Stand For? | Stephen K Amos
There are some artists that you can always count on to make you laugh, the caliber of comedian that you can watch countless...
A Stupid Liar | Lawrence Mooney
With his latest show, he's not so much A Stupid Liar as he is brutally honest about men, women and what really happens at a...
FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out | Zoe McDonald
What McDonald has created is a finely tuned performance where each intricate movement, tone and mannerism is explored and p...
Puppetry of The Penis Live
Making their grand entrance onto the stage, clad only in velvet superhero-like capes, the fabulously peppy puppeteers intro...
Fool's Gold | Frank Woodley
There are far worse things you could do with an hour or so of your life than watching the wonderfully silly Frank Woodley d...