The two time frames are beautifully integrated, both textually and in terms of director Caitlin McLeod’s elegant staging. The two pairs of actors, playing present and past Dee and Jamie (Sally Oliver and Cat Simmons, and Lauren Crace and Cherrelle Skeete respectively), tag-team on and offstage, sharing more of each others’ space as the play go on. Cecelia Carey’s ingenious design, along with Elliot Griggs’s flawless lighting, sees the Finborough’s intimate playing space transformed from squalid hovel to bare prison cell and back again with just a couple of prop changes. In a very effective piece of staging, Carey has Young Dee and Young Jamie always in sight, even while the focus of the action is their older selves – we may change and grow as time passes, but we can never fully leave behind the people we once were.
Wallace is dealing with bleak subjects here – racism, sexual
abuse and the horrors of incarceration – but And I and
Silence is tremendously subtle in its exploration of these ugly
truths. Wallace’s dialogue has a quickfire poetry about it that keeps the
play’s tone light-hearted and all four actors do a remarkable job keeping their
performances playful while evoking the despair that bubbles just beneath the
surface. An extraordinary achievement from all involved.