Speechless (4 stars)

This article is from 2010.


Giving voice to a powerful story

As the familiar strains of ‘Jerusalem’ play out, a pair of twins, June and Jennifer, emerge onto the stage. Unable to find a language to communicate with the outside world they are almost silent, speaking only to each other, creating a fantasy world in their bedroom, a stark metal bunk bed their only companion. Left alone they sing ‘God Save the Queen’ and re-enact the Royal jubilee, a sea of Barbie dolls around them. But Britain, consumed by the pomp of Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding and the hostility of the Brixton riots, has no place for them.

Inspired by the best-selling book The Silent Twins by Marjorie Wallace, Speechless is a devastating look at rejection and the postwar tensions between Caribbean and white Britons. Linda Brogan and Polly Teale’s carefully crafted adaptation features deft comic touches that punctuate the stark realities of the twins’ mental and literal imprisonment. And while there’s a political poignancy here, the focus doesn’t drift from the siblings’ stifling, frustrating isolation within their own and each other’s minds, which is at times given strangely beautiful expression.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 29 Aug, times vary, £15–£17 (£11–£12).


  • 4 stars

Shared Experience ('Jane Eyre', 'War and Peace', 'The Glass Menagerie') and Sherman Cymru ('Deep Cut'; Fringe First/Herald Angel/Amnesty International award winner 2008) join forces to portray the extraordinary story of identical twins June and Jennifer Gibbons. Refusing to speak to adults, the twins communicate in their…

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