A play about physical and sexual abuse within a family can easily stray into caricature and stereotype and it is difficult to find a new angle to explore, Five Kinds of Silence by Shelagh Stephenson retained the usual elements to be expected but with the added exploration of  inner thoughts and feeling from the individual characters and giving them a voice for the audience to understand their perspective. In this sense, it was an above par attempt to draw in the bigger picture and extent of the abuse. The play also tried to raise the issue of abuse as a wider problem than those directly involved, even if only as an afterthought and hinted at in the title. However, although the monologues gave the inner thoughts of the characters, the drawback was time taken away from the interaction and inter relationship between the family members and ultimately an inferior device for a multi character play. That aside, the performance of actors were great given the demanding roles each had to play. The abusive father, played by Zach Lee, was intimidating and always carried a quiet menace bubbling underneath, aided by his constant presence on stage to haunt the family even after his death. Tessa Wood as the mother and Olivia Dennis and Violet Ryder as the daughters all managed superbly the balance of the helpless victim haunted by the spectre of abuse whilst never quite giving up the hope of escape. It is difficult to end such a play as salvation cannot be too easy but salvation is welcomed nonetheless and the play has the right balance with its conclusion. This is a above par play with fine performances and a decent example of work on the subject matter.


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