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Return to the Silence

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The morning when neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor awoke to discover she was suffering a stroke, and that she was no longer the master of her own body, gave her an insight into the affect of neurological disorder which was uniquely appropriate to her. As her own life was reformed by the incident, she was able to meditate on the impact the conditions she studied had made upon the lives of her patients.

Curious Directive, a multimedia group dedicated to the melding of science with theatre, use this as the launching point for an evening which is, unfortunately, as much explanation as exploration.

The show is most successful in the strength of its performers, who embody and describe the conditions they represent with great honesty and considerable pathos. One man’s struggle against Parkinson’s disease is particularly well handled, and another whose lack of physical control has led him to be charged with assault is performed immaculately. Another highlight is Jasmine Robinson’s live video work, which is beautifully melded with the onstage action.

The show’s problems lie in its unconvincing central concept (it took a stroke to make Taylor consider these issues?), and in the sheer quantity of elements which are brought together. Adam Alston’s score works too hard to charge the audience’s emotions, and the staging, in which the audience is shifted around on large wagons, is underused, proving distracting rather than disorienting. If this production placed greater trust in the content of its writing and performances, rather than its innovative form, it would be a stronger and more compelling experience.

- Stewart Pringle


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