Posts Tagged ‘Roger Mitchell’

The first scene hadn’t been playing for long by before I took a profound dislike to four of the five characters. Here was an introspective family of self-possessed ‘Bohemians’ with their inclusive behavioural norms and language (much of it implausibly filthy – I don’t know any 20-somethings who’d speak like that in front of and to their parents!).

I’ve spent time with families like this (well, without the language) and they exclude others even without meaning to. They brought up youngest son Billy to lip-read rather than sign, thinking this was including him. The result was his exclusion from the outer deaf world and without them realising it, from their world too.

Billy, deaf from birth, meets a girl who is going deaf and enters her world and the wider deaf world, learning to sign (to the anger of his family) in order to do so. When he brings her home, the family reaction is a bit curious, a bit bemused, very patronising and somewhat resistant to this invasion from the other world. Eventually Billy asserts himself and withdraws, much to their disbelief.

I was convinced after the first few minutes I wasn’t going to like this play; how can you spend two hours with these horrible people and enjoy it? However, it developed such complexity and depth that I became enthralled; I even woke up this morning thinking about it. It says so much about communication but in a way which plants ideas and expects you to process them yourself.

Roger Mitchell’s sensitive production gets an intimacy from Mark Thompson’s set which seems to reduce the size of the auditorium and draw you towards the stage. The performances are excellent, with Harry Treadaway’s difficult and complex journey particularly impressive. There’s an extent to which Jacob Casselden and Michelle Terry as the deaf couple are given your empathy from the outset, but earn your understanding, respect and compassion.

I missed Nina Raine’s first play Rabbit, but I was hugely impressed by this second one. Jerusalem, Enron, Cock, Posh, Sucker Punch, Clybourne Park, Tribes……The Royal Court really is on a roll.

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