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I Know All the Secrets in My World review at West Herts College, London – ‘carefully crafted physicality’

Tiata Fahodzhi's I Know All The Secrets of My World at West Hers College, London Tiata Fahodzi's I Know All The Secrets in My World at West Hers College, London
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Dad’s the word. In fact, it’s just about the only word in an otherwise silent play about the relationship between a father and son. Written and directed by Natalie Ibu, artistic director of Tiata Fahodzi, the piece goes for gentle symbolism and carefully crafted physicality over dialogue.

Through fractured snapshots we learn that mum’s dead, and dad isn’t coping well. In fact he’s trying to resurrect her out of pillows and perfume. His young son deals with grief in a different but no less troubling way – hiding in a fantasy world, where he pretends to be a superhero.

The close synchronisation between Solomon Israel as the dad and Samuel Nicholas as the son slowly dissolves, until they’re both leading isolated, insular lives – despite being in the same tiny bedsitter flat. Nicholas is particularly good as a spry child bouncing around Alyson Cummins’ detailed set.

Some unnecessary scenes dilute the play’s more potent moments, and sound cues – whooshes and whirrs which come and go abruptly – sometimes bear no relation to what’s happening on stage.

But there’s power in the silence, and it cuts two ways: dad’s frustrated communications with his son remind us that parents are often hard to talk to, especially when it matters. On the other hand, that silence also suggests a comfort and familiarity between dad and child. There’s no need to speak.

It’s an intriguing, occasionally moving piece. Ibu manages to make the play speak firmly and clearly, even though the characters say barely anything at all.

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A carefully crafted, physically rich piece about fathers and sons.