Review: Piece of Silk at The Hope Theatre
Review by Chantelle Dusette
“A woman is like silk, drop her in the mud and she gets dirty”
This new play by Jennie Buckman tackles the difficult subject of domestic abuse with a formidable cast.
And so to the London home of Mrs P (Heather Coombes) a widower, who survived her husband of Indian origin, left to raise their bi-racial daughters, Shaz and Dunya. The two girls are incredibly close; the eldest Shaz (Tanya Vital) is the wilder, playful one, and prominent figure on the vlogging scene with her fun and crazy stories, which she uses as a form of escapism. Dunya (Samantha Shellie) is the innocent, she who lives with Asperger’s and OCD and is cared for by both mother and sister. The interplay between the sisters is sincere and warming.
The girls are routinely joined by Billy (Jack Bence) who is a close family friend and best friend to Shaz, he fancies himself as a would be son/ son-in-law to Mrs P and is a comforting and reassuring presence in the home.
The family receive an unexpected visitor in the form of Sami (Devesh Patel) the girl’s half-brother, who arrives with a thud, and really makes himself at home in the most uncomfortable way. Mrs P ends up taking a holiday leaving her daughters to better get to know their brother, which leads to disastrous results. Culture clashes play a huge part in the story and Buckman does well to highlight these without attacking. In fact, you cannot help but feel for Sami because of the systemic doctrine that has been forced upon him, and is clearly contradictory to who he is, as we see that half way through the play when he gets really drunk. This cleverly told story puts culture under the spotlight as these two families try to join as one. He becomes violent towards his sisters but he genuinely seems unable to see how terrible his behaviour is and can only relate to how things are at ‘home’ unable to adjust to living in the UK.
Heather Coombes does a tremendous job of playing three characters, one of them being Shaz’s boss, each fully realised and as the story unfolds we see the struggles her character has to deal with. The writing is strong and offers meat for all actors, and the audience some laugh out loud moments. The ensemble work well together and all give sterling performances but it is Jack Bence, who stands out as the narrator of the story.
Each time I see a show at The Hope I am always amazed at how the space transforms and this time was no exception. Tania Azevedo uses the space wonderfully with the floor having a lighting grid, and moveable rails, which are adjusted to reframe the space, moving further and further inwards, creating a sense of claustrophobia. The direction by Tania Azevedo is sharp and the play has a high intensive energy, which makes you the audience feel as though you have had he best work out. The play physically matches the wonderful dialogue and is rhythmic, paired with the ‘laptop screen’ projected images of Shaz’s vlogs, this play feels very current and is incredibly engaging.
‘Piece of Silk’ is an energetic and bold play, which stays with you after and offers food for thought.
Four star rating
This show has now ended
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