reviewed at the Mercury Theatre Studio, Colchester on 17 October
Wars, especially global ones, throw up a lot of wreckage. This includes human wastage, bilateral damage as the bland phrase has it. Small fry entangled in this horror sequence tends to be overlooked.
Nicola Werenowska’s new play Silence, a co-production with Salisbury Playhouse’s Wiltshire Creative and Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, explores three generations of Polish-origin women and their contrasted ways of dealing with life’s traumas.
Both German and Russian occupations of the country, itself something of a political football since the Middle Ages, caused immense suffering and forcible displacement.
Maria, the grandmother of this story, has largely kept silence about the depths of her personal agonies first in Poland and later in Siberia. Her daughter Ewa has a rocky marriage in Reading and Anna, her daughter, is a typical young woman of the early 21st century.
Director Jo Newman and her designer Baśka Wesolowka balance the complexity of the stories and characters’ revelations with a taut simplicity. Scenery consists of three grey chairs backed by grey screens. Costume changes are kept to a minimum, simply reflecting different times and places.
The three actresses – Tina Gray as Maria, Kate Spiro as Ewa and Maria Louis as Anna – all inhabit their rôles from the heart out; they make these women’s contrasted dilemmas and their equally different ways of coping with them moving as well as credible.
Four star rating.
Silence runs at the Mercury Theatre Studio, Colchester until 20 October. There are matinée or early evening performances on 18, 19 and 20 October. The tour continues until 17 November including the Norwich Arts Centre (23 October) and the Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich (5 November).