The Vikings are running! The Vikings are running! Shenanigans abound in this fast-paced, silly "chase and run" comedy that has a motley crew of people fleeing from King Ethelred's wrath and rule. A coming of age tale with a dark ages backdrop, Silence delves into topics such as paganism, brutality, Christianity, class distinction and much more with verve.
(Chosen as one of The New Theater Corps'
FIVE FAVORITES for 2/2/07)
Reviewed by Cindy Pierre
You don't need to know much about Viking history or norse mythology to understand Moira Buffini's drama, but that knowledge may enhance your experience. Otherwise, what you are left with is an extremely talky piece whose characters treat emotion as if it were an afterthought. The main perpetrator, Kelly Hutchinson's French princess Ymma, barrels through her dialogue with nary a thought for depth or fiestiness, traits that the script calls for her to embody. With the exception of a delightful Roger, played by Greg Hildreth (a young Vincent D'Onofrio look-alike), a deliciously brooding Eadric, personified by Chris Kipiniak, and Joe Plummer's hammy King Ethelred, Silence's actors are muted in more ways than the playwright intended.
Fortunately, Buffini has a nice plot soup to fall back in. Between the rather keen observations made on religion, royalty, and gender roles, there are enough dramatic twists to propel the story forward even if they're not always congruent. Color it long and comprehensive, but I wouldn't color it dull.
Some of the topics merely broached in Silence should have better representation. The Vikings, exemplified only by a 14-year old, should have a presence that is much more barbaric. And King Ethelred's hokey outbursts are not sufficient to give the illusion of a tyranny. The element of danger needs to be revamped. With the potential to be so explosive, the audience is only given a glimpse of these worlds where there should be a tour.
Because there is often dual-action on stage, the transition from one scene to the next could be more distinct. The use of a two-tiered stage, however, is very effective in communicating Ethelred's grandeur and denoting a different environment.
The light cues are sluggish, and the score is questionable for the era and narrative arc. The set pieces are beautiful, but they should be more rustic. They are too contemporary and refined for the boorish environment that the characters are in.
Silence may speak volumes, but much of its content is either intellectual or amusing. Despite some predictability and re-heated themes, it does tackle many of the issues that consistently trouble human nature. Perhaps a light-hearted approach is a great way for the audience to assimilate them.
Written by Moira Buffini, and directed by Suzanne Agins. SILENCE plays Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through Sunday, February 10. American Theatre of Actors, 314 West 54th Street. TICKETS: $18 212-352-3101
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.