Silent was another very short-run show that was gone too quickly. But Melbourne’s loss is Perth’s gain, as it’s at the Perth Fringe World festival from 13 to 23 February.
Ireland’s Fishamble company are all about new plays and writers (I love them already). Silent is written and performed by Pat Kinevane. He says that it’s a chance for him to be grateful for every blessing because it could be him “lying against a post restaurant door”. It won awards at the Edinburgh Festival and has toured the UK, Europe and the US.
Tino was named after Rudolph Valentino and he slips into the absurdly beautiful silent film style of his namesake to tell the story we’ve stopped to hear on a cold Dublin street. Perhaps we dropped a coin without looking at him, perhaps we’re looking for somewhere where we won’t freeze tonight. Either way, we listen.
His story of homelessness starts with a childhood that could have been better, the suicide attempts of his brother (whose smile would “trump the smile of Jesus”) and a slide into addiction and mental illness that lost him all of his “splendid things”. But it’s not driven by what-ifs or if-onlys, but by a desperate need to speak with other people and break the unrelenting loneliness of having so little that you know that only 1 in 600 people will even look at you as they go by.
Kinevane is a compelling performer who lets us know that Tino knows we’re still made uncomfortable by the sight of him. And his script creates Tino’s world with witnesses who will never know his story and plants its ending so gently that it doesn’t make us ask the right question until it’s too late. It’s beautiful writing.
Having toured and been polished, it suffers slightly from not being in a small intimate venue because empty seats and a large stage the create the space for audience to escape into, but it takes nothing away from the work that’s full of the kind of hope that hurts as much as it supports.