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Speechless (Tour - Leeds)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Based on a true story, this production from Shared Experience; written by Linda Brogan and directed by Polly Teale, is an affecting and innovative adaptation of two twins’ silent struggle to be heard.

Feeling suffocated by their Caribbean roots and rejected by the UK schooling system, Jennifer and June Gibbons begin a silent protest, speaking to nobody but one another. Fuelled by an inward creativity the girls ostracise those around them including their arguing parents, settled sister and well intentioned teachers. Hiding behind a wall of solitude and silence, the only person who can penetrate this wall is a reprehensible American teen who becomes the focal point of their obsessions. However, despite the narratives apparent melancholy, the play is not presented as pleading – more as a candid and, often humorous, representation of the twins’ teen years. The play is undeniably bleak and can often be outwardly preachy about female exploitation and violence. However this is offset through a warmth and humour, most often delivered by Mrs Gibbons Anita Reynolds.

Despite some unavoidable difficulties with cast, the play was perfectly executed. Madeline Appiah who took the role of June Gibbons at extremely short notice excelled. Despite having to occasionally refer to the script, her performance was compelling and moving and did not affect the production overall. Peppered with moments of intense intimacy and compelling physical drama Speechless is a multi-faceted, intriguing and though provoking production that should not be missed.

For tickets on more information, content the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 0113 213 7700  

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