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Shared Experience Tour Fringe Hit Speechless

By • West End
Following its Fringe First-winning premiere at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe, theatre company Shared Experience will bring Linda Brogan and Polly Teale's Speechless to London's Arcola Theatre as part of an autumn tour.

Based on Marjorie Wallace’s book The Silent Twins, the play gives a glimpse into the secret world of identical twins June and Jennifer Gibbons and their ultimately destructive alliance. The play premiered at the Traverse Theatre last year.

Born to post-war immigrants to the UK from Barbados, the twins communicated in their own private language and withdrew into an exclusive and turbulent relationship. Increasingly troubled, they were committed in their teens to Broodmoor high security mental hospital, where they were to spend 14 years as their story headed towards its eventual end.

Against a 1980s backdrop of race riots and a royal wedding, their story is touched by isolation, bullying, racism and the legacy of imperialism.

The tour, which launches from North Wall, Oxford on 14 September 2011, visits Truro, Poole, Taunton and Southampton before a 27 October (previews from 26 October) to 19 November run at Dalston's Arcola Theatre.

The production reunites cast members Natasha Gordon and Demi Oyediran as Jennifer and June and Anita Reynolds as their mother. Further casting is still to be announced.

Polly Teale, who also directs Speechless, is joint artistic director of Shared Experience. Her productions for the company include: The Glass Menagerie, Mine, Ten Tiny Toes, Kindertransport, Jane Eyre, After Mrs Rochester, Madame Bovary, The Clearing, A Doll’s House, The House of Bernarda Alba, Desire Under the Elms; and as co-Director with Nancy Meckler, War and Peace, co-produced with the National Theatre.

Linda Brogan's writing credits include Basil and Beattie (Manchester Royal Exchange and Liverpool Everyman), What’s in the Cat (Contact, Manchester and the Royal Court) and Black Crows (Clean Break at the Arcola).

Speechless marks Shared Experience's first production since learning their application to become an Arts Council England regularly funded organisation was unsuccessful. The company have been resident at Oxford Playhouse since January 2011.

Speechless is presented by Shared Experience in association with Sherman Cymru.


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