Silence Review

Theatre Royal York – until Saturday 3 November 

Reviewed by Sally Richmond



SILENCE is a compellingly and highly moving story that explores the lives of three women, over three generations, who have hidden secrets that are woven tightly within their relationships with one another – only to be unravelled, revealing some shocking truths.

The play starts in London, 1996 and it’s Ewa’s 50th birthday. Her daughter Anna is coming home from University and is slightly apprehensive due to some news of her future plans that she wants to share. Grandmother, Maria, also starts to share some secrets and confidences of her own.

The past that has created gulfs and rifts between the family members, which are all wrapped up in their Polish roots and start to come to the surface as memories begin to fall out into conversations and keepsakes are found.

Nicola Werenowska’s captivating new play careers between Warsaw and London over the lives of these three, fascinating women of a Polish/British family.

The youngest woman of the three, daughter Anna, portrayed by the energetic Maria Louis, encapsulates the vigour and vibrancy of youth in her pursuit of trying to find herself – which is a sharp contrast from her mother, Ewa (the brilliant Kate Spiro), who seems to be desperately clinging onto the sad life she finds herself living, telling herself that “she’s alright, she’s happy” when clearly she’s far from it. Tina Gray is outstanding as grandmother Maria, calm and poised on the outset but inside she is harbouring some of the worst things that could possibly ever happen to a mother.

The monologues delivered by the three superb actresses are cleverly entwined with one another, making what could be slow and droll far from it – in fact the pace is filled with quick interactions, is highly energetic in parts but ingenuously interjected with poignant moments just at the right time.

Werenowska’s play, which has been created from the truths she has gathered from family and close associates, is one that needs to be told and gives a Polish generation whose lives were filled of banishment and the deportation from their homeland, a chance to tell their story and to stop the silence.

SILENCE opens up the issues and topics that needs to be heard and gives people of a the 2nd and 3rd generation of Polish heritage a voice and a sense to work out who they are and where they’ve come from.

The cast of three is strong, with emotional yet controlled performances. Their interactions with one another are slick and smooth within a complex arrangement of speaking parts that cross over one another. Timing is perfect, speech executed perfectly – Gray gives a master class in how to tell one of the saddest stories ever heard clearly and flawlessly, totally immersed in character so well that it was like Maria was on that stage, telling her story.

SILENCE will educate you, move you, provoke thoughts and feelings inside you, and helps one explore controversial issues from both the past and the present.

(Monday 5 November – Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, Tuesday 6 – Wednesday 7 November – The Marlowe Studio, Canterbury, Thursday 8 November – Minghella Studios, University of Reading, Friday 9 November – POSK, London and Tuesday 13 – Saturday November – Salisbury Playhouse)