Reviews West End & Central Published 10 July 2015

Silent

Soho Theatre ⋄ 7th - 25th July 2015

Fearless and fearful.

Lydia Thomson
Pat Kinevane at Tino

Pat Kinevane at Tino

Walking up Dean Street to the Soho Theatre, I saw a man cloaked in a duvet talking to a group of people sat outside a restaurant. One guy had his head in his hands, while a woman was giving the man money and saying “There you go, there you go.”

They were trying to make him go away, but the duvet-clad man still didn’t leave.

Watching Silent by Fishamble Theatre may have given me some idea as to why.

Silent is the story of Tino, a man who has fallen from having a job, a wife, a son and a house to living off the spare change (and Actimel) he collects in a hat. Told through cabaret style impersonations of his mother, the anthropomorphism of his blanket and a playful relationship with lighting and sound, we are drawn into an imagined world beyond the side of a street. Here we learn of the events in his family that lead him to homelessness. This world is fun, bright, and beautifully depicted with smiling white teeth and hands that dance like feathers.

It is in this world, separated into chapters that are performed and captioned in the style of a silent movie, that Pat Kinevane uses Tino’s character to discuss everything from mental health to alcoholism, to sexuality, depression and suicide. We are invited to offer our responses to the words ‘anti-depressant’, ranging from “bullshit” to “dependency” to “necessary”, all within a couple of rows of audience members. We are invited to laugh with Tino at the government’s solution to issues in mental health: to simply “Look after yourself.” We are invited into the depths of one man’s trauma as he roars, screams, smiles and pouts between all corners of the stage, until a heartbreaking twist at the end leaves us with the image of feet poking out of a blanket.

There is a lot to this story, but arguably too much. Some renditions of a character or a scenario can slip by unnoticed until we return to the spine of the story. Yet, the potential threat of boredom is never an issue: Pat Kinevane is one of life’s rare breeds of brilliant storytellers. He is the kind that can hold an entire train carriage of people in rapture, or turn the heads of every drinker in a pub. He is also a lovely dancer, and uses this and every theatrical tool in his grasp to keep the piece fresh.

Tino tells us that he just gets lonely sometimes, and he is grateful for the kindness of those who listen. His relationship with the audience is one built on mutuality – he delights in us, playing on our disgust and investing in our own stories, improvising for a moment on the sound of a dirty laugh and baring his gleaming white teeth again, always beneath a glint in his eye.

The piece is at once dark and dazzling, fearless and fearful, silent and deafening. It goes beyond the traditional wall between audience and performer, and beyond the vocal restrictions of a silent movie. In defying these things it makes the point that this is the story of a man who wants to talk, who wants to listen, who wants to be understood.

Like the man cloaked in a duvet on Dean Street earlier that evening, Tino will thank the passers-by for their donations of spare change, but what he really wants is a conversation. Steve Marmion, artistic director of the Soho Theatre, says that he wants to make theatre “To make the world a better place”. Change doesn’t come from me writing this review, neither does it come from the piece of theatre itself. It comes from how we respond to depression, alcoholism, homelessness, homophobia. It is in how we talk, and how we listen – it is in deciding not to be silent. Pat Kinevane ends the piece by whispering that he wasn’t really there. Regardless, Tino’s story certainly was.

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Lydia Thomson

Lydia writes about theatre for her own blog and reviews local work for the Basingstoke Gazette and the Hampshire Chronicle. She was also a member of the reviewing team for LIFT 2014. As well as arts journalism, Lydia is a playwright and performance artist working in Hampshire and London. She is an associate artist of Proteus Theatre Company in Basingstoke and is part of the artist's network at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton.

Silent Show Info


Produced by Fishamble

Directed by Jim Culleton

Written by Pat Kinevane

Cast includes Pat Kinevane

Link http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/silent/

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