JOYCE MCMILLAN on KIND OF SILENCE at Platform, Glasgow, for The Scotsman, 7.9.15.
4 stars ****
THE WORLD IS SILENT, and music is everywhere; so says the front cover of the programme for this latest show from Solar Bear, Scotland’s theatre company specialising in work for both deaf and hearing audiences. And although the word “experimental” is often over-used in the world of theatre, there’s a sense of a genuinely ground-breaking experiment going on in this new response to the legend of Echo and Narcissus, created and directed for Solar Bear by one of Scotland’s leading sound designers, Danny Krass.
On Kai Fischer’s exquisitely-lit stage containing just one cube-shaped room without walls, and a high tree-branch above, performers Charlene Boyd, Jacob Casselden and James Anthony Pearson walk, talk, mime, dance and gesture their way through a modern version of the ancient story of self-absorption and love rejected, while to one side, musician Alon Ilsar uses intensely vibrating instruments – mainly drums and theremin-like “air sticks”, mediated through a technology that delivers sound vibrations direct into the body rather than through the air – to reflect and drive their actions.
There are times when the show seems a little unsure of its direction, as it makes its way through sequences titled Silence, Music, Noise, and Kind of Silence; some of Chisato Minamimura’s choreographed sequences seem over-extended, even in a show barely an hour long. Kind Of Silence features three tremendously vivid performances, though, treading fearlessly through the danger-zones of attraction, intimacy, loss and solitude; and in the end, this fascinating show opens up whole new worlds of possibility, based on the recognition that the thing we call music is written into our bodies, and that even for those who cannot hear in the conventional sense, both rhythm and melody pulse through their lives, creating the kind of silence that is full of shaping energy – heard, unheard, or suddenly made visible.
On tour to Inverness, Aberdeen, Ayr and Greenock, until 19 September, and the Citizens’ Theatre Progression 2015 event, 24 September.