Edinburgh Fringe 2021
‘Hopeless, helpless, in-the-way person’. SILENT is the touching and challenging story of homeless McGoldrig, who once had splendid things. But he has lost it all – including his mind. He now dives into the wonderful wounds of his past through the romantic world of Rudolph Valentino. Dare to laugh at despair and gasp at redemption in this brave, bleak, beautiful production for which Fishamble and Pat Kinevane won an Olivier Award in 2016.
A body emerges from behind a piece of cloth, as artfully displayed body parts emerge to the sound of gentle carnival music- Pat Kinevane has begun the relentless story of SILENT. With enhanced eye make-up and a black tuxedo jacket he deftly channels a series of characters with fearless high theatricality. The poetic and emotion -shifting stream of consciousness has the committed command and confusion of an altered state of mind and we soon learn that our narrator is homeless on the street, and we are seeing both the people he encounters (mostly dropping coins in his cup) and the people in his head. “Outside and inside my head”, he tells us.
The script and tightly interwoven sound design are carefully constructed (we hear the coins clank, we hear the music supporting McGoldrig’s fantasy divas emerging from silent films). This one man -show is based on the conceit of theatrical storytelling with all the stops pulled out. There are silent film lighting effects, there is fog, and there are unabashedly emotional dance interludes full of sex and glamour . And they all work. The story itself is painful and rings true, of a troubled man who went from young husband and father who drank too much, to rejected and isolated, to disturbed and institutionalized, to homeless on the street. And if this sounds unrelentingly grim, it is not- there are some good jokes thrown in told by our raconteur with great charm and a wink. He is full of dark self-referential jokes, which he tells while drinking his bottle of sparkle-wrapped merlot. Woven into the many characters we encounter, is the ongoing story of McGoldrig’s beautiful gay brother, Pierce, who declared himself “when it was not fashionable.” McGoldrig’s guilt at not intervening when Pierce is rejected by family and community is a reoccurring theme. The ideas spin out with complete conviction, and follow the unerring logic of an obsessed mind. We have known all along that McGoldrig is not exactly a reliable narrator, and by the end of the hour, we are not sure whose story he has told. We only know it has ended with a perfect climax of pain and surprise. “If anyone asks, I am not here at all”. This is brave and exciting work.