Review: Five Kinds of Silence

Joe Jukes 29 January 2014

Upon sitting down in the Corpus Playroom, the statistic "One in four women will be subjected to domestic abuse in their lifetime" greeted me on the front of the programme. With this, I settled myself down and prepared for the onslaught of this “harrowing, physical production”.

And that is was, but so much more too. The fantastic ensemble worked with speed and precision to bring out artistic detail and transform brutal monologues into flowing sequences with real meaning. Use of music in physical sequences worked well and generally matched the messages contained in the scenes. What struck me as a viewer was the fluidity of Five Kinds. Seamless transitions owing to the minimalistic set and segues from scene to scene kept the pace up and the impact high. Add to this the powerful monologues and fantastic script and you have for yourself a superb, if a little soul-destroying, piece.

It was really the writing of this play, which carried the message of how domestic violence can influence lives beyond the period of abuse, which was so affecting. Physicality certainly embellished the messages contained in the script, often reminiscent of spoken word, and lifted the sentences into the dynamic storytelling on display at the Playroom. Indeed, Marthe de Ferrer’s direction matched artistry and aesthetic to the harrowing physicality the programme had promised. The acting too was incredibly strong throughout. The role of Billy, an abusive father and husband shot dead by his family, was powerfully reflected in Ed Broadhead’s line delivery and haunting physical presence. Sisters Janet and Susan (Sasha Brooks and Kate Reid respectively) were the most convincing and affecting characters; with Brook’s physical portrayal and Reid’s characterisation being shining examples for the play. It did feel as if ensemble characters were made more redundant during the second half of the play, which was a shame due to the duo’s perfect execution of the impressive and speedy choreography.

Fantastic direction, and a clearly enthusiastic and energetic cast combine to make Five Kinds of Silence an intense ride, but one you won’t want to stop (or at least be too terrified to do so!). So, if you’re looking for a particularly rewarding emotional onslaught that’ll leave you teary and thoughtful, get down to the Corpus Playroom as soon as you can.