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Sunday, June 04, 2006

 
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kristen & todd have been interested in seeing more theatre, so we've been trying to go to a variety of shows and taking some chances on plays. so when i saw the description for silence, i was intrigued but dubious:

"Amid the chaos of Viking raids and the end of the millennium panic, Silence, the young Lord of Cumbria, is forced to marry a feisty French Princess at the behest of the English King. On their wedding night both are horrified to discover things are not what they seem to be. Full of humor and sexual politics, Silence resonates disturbingly in our own age of holy war."

i had my doubts because it seemed like a period piece w/ some sort of transsexual component to it, either of which can be done horribly, horribly wrong, especially if played for laughs or snark factor. and since assassins had done so little for me, i didn't have high hopes. but for less than half the price of assassins and despite the minimal setting (including the broken row of chairs we were sitting in), we got something that felt full, round, and empassioned rather than rotely performed.

the actors had a lot to do with it: it felt like they were actually acting rather than just speaking loudly or emphatically. all the roles managed to walk the fine line between emotion and melodrama. a lot of acting is finding compassion and empathy for your characters, to find the invisible connections between the unwritten past and the current action. so i was glad to find that despite the heaviness of the subject, there were moments of genuine mirth and delight where there could have easily been satire or caricature instead. and considering the unique nature of the role of silence, the actress did a marvellous job -- occasionally it felt like she played a little too young and naive for her supposed age, but overall the effect was charming rather than annoying.

the script itself is a little unevenly paced, but many devices i tend to dislike were handled well here: character narration, love triangles, characters who have nothing in common that are maneuvered into romantic relationships. secondary characters tend to add little to the story, but in this case the maid & the priest are given their own arcs and discoveries.

there was a little too much kissing in the "oo, aren't we edgy!" sort of way; characters ocassionally felt compelled to reveal their past motivations in awkward ways before returning to their more nuanced interactions; i was most confused by the point of eadric's character (why do they let him stay and what's up with the whole mindreading thing?). but there were also a few moments of inspired anachronist staging.

so i didn't necessarily walk out feeling like i had a revelation, but i left feeling satisfied, having finally spent money on people who care about theatre. if you're feeling adventurous, silence runs thursday, friday & saturday till jun24 at the Back Door Theatre (behind common grounds coffee). tix are $15-$18.

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