Silence (2 stars)

This article is from 2018


Overwrought and underconsideration spectacle

As one of the few shows at the Fringe with a sense of the spectacular, Silence is an event: situated in a courtyard and featuring impressive pyrotechnics and a speeding motorbike, it attempts to explore the plight of refugees through physical theatre, life-like models of children (who become a symbol of vulnerability and hope), loud music and repetition. Yet it manages to say little more than emphasise that being a refugee places people at the mercy of militias, the forces of history and that the whole thing is a sorry state of affairs.

Teatr Biuro Podróży from Poland are experts at the large scale theatre, but this demonstration of skillful stilt-walking and dynamic physicality is suffused with a sentimentality that makes for clumsy juxtapositions of pathetic episodes of compassion with the rough arrival of the oppressors. The first time that the stilt walkers chase the refugees with burning wheels (representing the rotation of history and fortune, perhaps), it is impressive, but its reprise simply presents the same idea, the same drama: there is little effort made in making the victims anything more than generic parents.

Sputtering towards a melancholic end, each scene makes a symbolic or allegorical point about forced migration, the final powerful image of paper boats being washed away by a street cleaner being typically emotive yet lacking any depth, any analysis. Expressing or feeling pity for displaced people is important, but without any understanding or focus, Silence ironically submits lived experience to the needs of art, a further act of silencing oppressed voices.

Pleasance @ EIC, until 26 Aug, 9.30pm, £15 (£12).


  • 2 stars

Teatr Biuro Podrozy Twenty-three years after the multi award-winning Carmen Funebre, the acclaimed TBP present the sequel. While Carmen explored the impact of war on civilians with the Bosnian conflict as the focus, Silence picks up the story of refugees caught in a spiral of violence and with dreams of escape. Why do…