Theatre in Wales

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Family life, family love?

Quiet Hands

Winterlight Theatre , Chapter , September-14-17
Quiet Hands by Winterlight Theatre Quiet Hands completes a trio of plays taking a close and understanding examination of autism presented by Chris Durnell’s Winterlight Theatre. The first being Matthew Passion by Mike James performed at The Sherman Theatre. This play follows Touch Blue Touch Yellow also by Tim Rhys: again he writes with a real beauty, with care and sensitivity and a clear grasp of his subject. Extremely compelling actor, Joshua Manfield again plays Carl, now a little older, as he did – making his professional debut in the previous production.

Here we see a strengthened actor even more clearly able to give us incites into the world of autism.
As we enter we see him standing alone in a single light, he points to the sky, rolls on the floor. He recovers and approaches a young woman in the audience and gently touches her face with his hands, he steps back and appears to be trying to place that face over his own. He does this again with a man on the other side of the traverse staging.

Carl’s mother has died; he is now alone in the house. His brother Russ has returned for the funeral. He has given little or no thought to his brother for many years. Russ’s girlfriend, Abi see a money grabbing opportunity here. Hannah Lloyd gives a compelling performance that oozes insensitivity and nastiness, all with an innocent smile. She will persuade Russ to get Carl to sell the house even though Carl will have nowhere to live. Mate Crime is in the air. Director, Chris Durnell and his excellent cast subtlety introduce a sharp note of tension and theatricality into the early moments of the play. This turns to a sharper realism as matters become more desperate.

Russ still feels his family ties and is not too keen on the plan. Abi gets her brother Mo to move in to put pressure on Carl to move out. Mo is a nasty piece of work and starts stabbing at Carl. Carl is upset and confused, he starts to shake and wave his hands rapidly. Russ holds him and whispers “quiet hands”. This reflects the therapy Carl has previously been given for this ‘problem’. It does little to calm him.

James Ashton gives us a well-drawn picture of the rough and ready Russ. Is there a good heart in there? He slips seamlessly into the role of the more calculating Mo. Who eventually succeeds making Carl agree to sell up. Game over, mate crime has worked!

Well has it? The answer lies in the final moments of this very fine and delicate production that I urge you to see.

Photo by Noel Le Conte

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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