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Play/Silence review at The Other Room, Cardiff – ‘mesmeric’

The cast of Silence at The Other Room, Cardiff hoto: Pallasca Photography The cast of Silence at The Other Room, Cardiff. Photo: Pallasca Photography
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The Other Room opens its new season with a potent double-bill. As pairings go, Samuel Beckett’s Play and Harold Pinter’s Silence are an excellent match and together they make for a mesmeric hour.

Both plays are examinations of love and pain. The former does so in a brilliantly funny fashion while the latter is altogether more bleak and beautiful. These plays aren’t just linked thematically, though. Dyfan Jones’ haunting score lingers from one production to the next and, while aesthetically different, both of Amy Jane Cook’s minimalist sets are organic in design, filling the space with wood, clay and stone.

Darkness dominates Play, the atmosphere suffocating; while Silence is bathed in a disconcerting brightness as its protagonists wander aimlessly through a hinterland.

The design, as so often at The Other Room, is superb, but the productions’s real strength lies in its performances. Appearing in both pieces, Peta Cornish and Matthew Bulgo are cuttingly cold in Play and remarkably restrained in Silence. Victoria John and Neal McWilliams make up the rest of this strong cast and though they’re under-utilised their performances are equal in quality.

This is the first time these two plays have appeared on stage as a double bill, which feels astonishing as they’re such a good fit. Directors Kate Wasserberg and Titas Halder have done something magnificent here with cast and creative team coming together to produce a sublime hour of theatre.

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Verdict
An assured and potent pairing of Beckett and Pinter's lamentations on love.
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