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Louder Is Not Always Clearer review at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff – ‘deeply moving’

Jonny Cotsen in Louder Is Not Always Clearer at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

Jonny Cotsen’s autobiographical exploration of D/deafness and communication might be personal to him but his story also has a wider resonance.

Though he was born D/deaf, that term wasn’t used in his home and Cotsen grew up in the hearing world. This meant that Cotsen became an exceptional lip-reader, but it also led to years of isolation and a sense of not belonging. His solo show Louder Is Not Always Clearer follows his emotional journey – and it makes for a deeply moving piece of theatre.

The success of Gareth Clark’s production lies in Cotsen’s stage presence. Unsurprisingly language is an integral part of Louder Is Not Always Clearer, but it’s the physicality of his performance that stands out. Bootcamp-style routines symbolise the exhaustion of not being able to communicate – a simple yet powerful analogy.

The audience is made a part of the show too, and there’s a poignant moment where Cotsen speaks to a member of the audience in BSL – in this way the majority of the audience is made to grasp what it is not to be able to understand everything that is being said.

Sound designer Chris Young, sitting on stage in front of a mixing desk, using loops and echoes to strong effect, acts as a conduit between the hearing and the D/deaf worlds. Jorge Lizalde’s AV design is also crucial to the piece, acting both as expositional tool and communicative device. Both worlds are catered to inventively here.

Verdict
Jonny Cotsen’s moving study of language, communication and isolation  

Production

Production
Louder Is Not Always Clearer
Venue
Chapter Arts Centre
City
Cardiff
Starts
February 6, 2018
Ends
February 10, 2018, then touring
Press night
February 7, 2018
Authors
Jonny Cotsen, Gareth Clark
Director
Gareth Clark
Lighting
Marega Palser
Sound
Chris Young
Video
Jorge Lizalde
Technical
Ceri Benjamin (technical manager)
Cast includes
Jonny Cotsen
Producer
Mr and Mrs Clark Productions
Running time
1hr