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SILENCE by Moira Buffini


  • Harlequin Theatre Queen Street Northwich CW9 5JN (map)

A SECOND DARK COMEDY OF OUR 2019/2020 SEASON WHERE SHAKESPEARE'S CROSS DRESSERS MEET MONTY PYTHON'S BLITHERING KNIGHTS AT THE END OF THE FIRST MILLENNIUM. 

MOIRA BUFFINI'S SILENCE TAKES US BACK A THOUSAND YEARS TO THE ENGLISH 'DARK AGES' AND THE REIGN OF KING ETHELRED, SET BETWEEN CANTERBURY AND CUMBRIA.

ETHELRED'S PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING FROM VIKING ATTACKS, BUT ETHELRED'S MENTAL HEALTH APPEARS TO BE DETERIORATING SWIFTLY AS HE IS AFRAID TO LEAVE HIS BED, RULING ENGLAND BY SENDING ORDERS VIA HIS FAITHFUL MANSERVANT EADRIC. YMMA OF NORMANDY, WHOSE MOTHER IS SAID TO BE A SAINT, HAS BEEN SENT TO ENGLAND BY HER BROTHER TO BE PUNISHED BY ETHELRED, WHICH HE DOES BY FORCING HER TO MARRY 14-YEAR-OLD LORD SILENCE OF CUMBRIA.

THE INNOCENT YOUNG SILENCE IS ANXIOUS ABOUT HIS PERFORMANCE ON HIS WEDDING NIGHT AND CONSULTS ROGER THE PRIEST WHO IS TRYING TO PERSUADE HIM TO LEAVE BEHIND HIS VIKING GODS AND TURN TO CHRISTIANITY, BUT ROGER IS TOO EMBARRASSED TO BE OF MUCH HELP. AFTER THE WEDDING WHEN THEY ARE ALONE FOR THE FIRST TIME, YMMA DISCOVERS THE REASON FOR SILENCE'S ANXIETY AND FORMS A VERY CLOSE BOND WITH HIM.

WHEN THEY PREPARE TO LEAVE FOR SILENCE'S CASTLE, ETHELRED HAS PLUCKED UP THE COURAGE TO LEAVE HIS BEDROOM AND DECIDED THAT HE MUST MARRY YMMA HIMSELF, AND SO PURSUES THE COUPLE BACK UP TO CUMBRIA, DEVASTATING A FEW VILLAGES ON THE WAY, IN ORDER TO KILL SILENCE AND TAKE HIS BRIDE FOR HIMSELF.

WHILE THIS ALL SOUNDS QUITE SERIOUS AND EVEN HORRIFIC, THIS PLAY IS REALLY A COMEDY AT HEART ALBEIT WITH SOME SERIOUS SITUATIONS. THERE ARE SOME EXTREMELY FUNNY SCENES AMONGST THE REPORTS OF TERRIBLE THINGS HAPPENING OFFSTAGE, BUT IT NEVER STRAYS BEYOND THE PLAUSIBLE AND SO IT IS EASY TO GET COMPLETELY ABSORBED BY THE STORY AND THE SUPERBLY-DRAWN CHARACTERS. THERE IS SOME BEAUTIFUL WRITING FROM BUFFINI IN THIS SCRIPT.

Earlier Event: 8 April
ALL MY SONS - Audition
Later Event: 10 June
ALL MY SONS by Arthur Miller