Silence Leaves the Audience in Stitches

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Bwog’s Megan McGregor shuffled down Broadway through the cold yesterday to see the first performance of the Barnard Theatre Department’s Silence.

Last night, the audience walked into the Diana Black Box to be shocked and awed by an elaborate and well-crafted set the likes of which the theatre has never seen before. A low wooden bridge spans the theatre, dividing it—and the audience—in two. At one end of the theatre stands a large set of double doors, and at the other, a staircase leading to a lofted room. The set, designed by Antje Ellerman, is reminiscent of earlier times, perhaps the 10th century—the time period during which Silence is set. Written by Moira Buffini and directed by Rob Bundy, Silence is put on by the Barnard Theatre Department.

At the play’s opening, one can easily be overwhelmed by the elaborate, historic-looking set and costumes. Initially, one may think they are looking at, as director Rob Bundy puts it, “a diorama replication of the 10th century.” Once the play takes off, the audience becomes aware that Silence is not a typical history play. In fact, it is not a history play at all. Bundy describes it as a “modern fairy tale set in a time long ago.” Silence is the story of a 14-year-old boy named Silence (Emily Kaplan, BC ’11), a half-British, half-Viking ruler of a Viking kingdom, who is given by the King of England (Daniel O’Neill, CC ’13) a bitchy French wife (Alice Mottola, BC ’11) who suffers from hysterical fits. Silence, written with the utmost wit and in contemporary vernacular, is side-splitting, unpredictable, and an all-around great pleasure to watch.

Kaplan exquisitely plays her role as the young boy ruler, Silence, struggling with his sexual feelings as he becomes a man and a husband. Kaplan not only plays her role as a young boy brilliantly, but also displays perfect comic timing and sincerity. Silence’s companion in England, who attempts to rid him of his heathenism and serve as his spiritual guide, is the comic and agoraphobic priest Roger, played by Nahuel Telleria, CC ’11. Like Kaplan, Telleria’s comic ability is impeccable.

Roger serves as priest to the King of England, Ethelred, played by O’Neill. Throughout Silence, the play alternates between scenes of Silence and company and Ethelred cowering or scheming. O’Neill hilariously performs his role as a feeble and useless king and shows great flexibility as an actor after Ethelred has a life-changing vision. Ethelred’s right-hand man, a bulky warrior with a love for hallucinogens, played by Dan Flatley, GS ’12, steals many well-deserved laughs from the audience with his absurd behavior.

Silence’s wife and the object of desire of most of the male characters in the play, Ymma, played by Alice Mottola, BC ’11, is one of the most multidimensional characters in the entire play. Mottola phenomenally fluctuates as Ymma from hysterical, to comical, to fierce, to sexy, to compassionate. Mottola plays one of the most difficult roles in the play with the utmost devotion. Ymma’s emotionally abused servant, played by Ashley Butler, CC ’11, also undergoes a great transformation throughout the play. Butler attacks each of these changes with grace and skill.

Not only is Silence aesthetically pleasing due to its elaborate set and costuming, but it is extraordinarily written and performed. Those looking to be shocked and surprised or those just looking to laugh their asses off while watching really good theatre, are highly recommended to attend Silence on Friday at 8 p.m. or Saturday at 2 p.m. or 8 p.m. in the Diana Black Box. Tickets are available at the TIC.

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  1. Awesome  

    Best theater review I've seen on Bwog in foreeeeever.

  2. Actually,

    the best set the Diana Black Box has ever seen was for Black Comedy.

    • Reality  

      Sorry but that's just false. Black Comedy did great with the resources they had, but they simply can't compete with the funds, skill, and time that the department can muster. Good try though.

  3. cc  

    I saw it tonight and it was AMAZING. the best student production I've seen in years! Esp. Silence, Agnes and Roger. Pure pleasure to watch.

  4. Anonymous

    a. since when does bwog review department shows? i'm pretty pissed it didn't review them in the past.
    but with that in mind b. what is up with being so positive? the show was great and the acting was great and i love the people involved, but as a general note to all bwog theater reviewers (and commentators), it's not helpful just to heap superlatives. what about some honest criticism? i feel that columbia lacks that about its theater and it's a great lack that needs to be addressed, i.e., corrected.

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