Edinburgh Fringe 2021
“She’s on her bed in her room staring at the ceiling. Gerard’s outside, wrestling with some wildlife. Damian’s hoping the gig will never end. A young boy goes on holiday with his parents. And me? Well, I’m sitting here, in my attic, telling stories I don’t remember writing, while thinking about her. This is a play about family, growing up, missed opportunities and lost memories.”
Memories, cups of tea, an umbrella, a perfect space, a young man, a young woman, a boy, and more…
Sitting at a large brown table, with a red background, Tim Honnef has an imposing presence, with still outstretched arms he animatedly tells us about his yearly cleanup. What does this mean to him? It’s more about sorting out ideas, he says.
With a natural delivery, as if sharing this for the first time. His stillness is powerful, there is no excessive movement, but expressive wide eyes, facial gestures and brief moments of relatable humour – such as tongue in cheek thoughts about performing online and it’s benefits.
Next, Honnef – or possibly not him (!) – with a fully grown beard, sleek tied back hair, maroon jumper, in front of a black background, appears and we are taken to another time and place. In this dark room he sits at a table with his face well lit, next to an old school portable cassette player. He reads to us from pages in a large ring binder, telling a story about a young woman seeking silence.
His storytelling is very effective, emotive and animated when describing characters and their relationships. It is clear that the writer (Honnef) enjoys language and this character relishes reading us this story, told with a certain amount of restraint, which draws the audience in to conjure their own imagery.
This storyteller takes care of his own sound effects played on the cassette player in between sections of the story deftly pressing buttons to play ever so brief soft volume music or background sounds – yet it is the action and inclusion of these moments that add to the performance with their witty charm – as well as the meticulous sound choices: a choir, muzak, jaunty folk music. A person speaks, and the storyteller listens and reacts to the voice with subtle non-verbal interactions. This element evokes an intimate, and slightly voyeuristic sense into the small, seemingly banal world of each character.
The story flows with intriguing, ordinary people and situations. Characters are woven in and unfold from the narrative. These are “Weird little stories” Honnef says about the inhabitants of his mind, in his vignettes, into their world – which is curiously relatable.
The Power of Silence is a montage of thoughts, memories, imagery, tender and searing recollections. However, this story is more complex than it seems, and it creeps up on you!
There is a welcome hand made quality to this show, told with a matter of fact charm, singular urgency and low tech, simplicity.
Stories, according to Honnef, have reasons for being. See what Honnef’s stories are about. Highly recommended!