Review: The Seven Silences – Anger by approaching Theatre (M1 Chinese Theatre Festival 2017)

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Based off a novel by Hong Kong writer Wong Bik Wan, Taiwanese theatre company approaching Theatre presents The Seven Silences: Anger, focusing on the lives of a group of downtrodden members from the lower depths of society as they live out their horrifying, unimaginably painful lives from day to day.

The Seven Silences: Anger is a dark, gritty work that scratches at audience members’ skin with its unabashed, raw portrayal of pain and suffering. Set in a single block of flats, we’re introduced to characters as varied as a prostitute whose boyfriend cheats her of her life savings, a child sexually abused by his mother’s boyfriend, a rubbish collector whose son abandons her, and a lifelong thief. Appropriately enough, the play opens with an innocent enough scene of a dog sniffing about the area, but quickly turns grim as it comes across abandoned shoes and discarded clothes – remnants of less fortunate lives, and even a limp, lifeless body lying on the ground, a teaser of the far worse things we were about to encounter over the hour long performance.

Playing all these characters are actors Cheng Yin-chen and Koh Choon Eiow. There’s a haunting realism to the way both actors play their myriad of characters, always deadly serious with little room for laughs in between, if at all. Both actors are extremely capable, choreographing their actions to deliver maximum emotional impact, the agony of their very existence evident on their faces. Both actors also deftly manipulated the stage’s simple set of a number of white cubes, arranging them into a stairway, a walkway, a wall, a platform and more, easily transforming the view in each scenario, helped immensely by Chen Guan-lin’s disturbing lighting design, which served to increase the hopelessness of the characters’ lives, such as bathing the stage in a dull red light to create an unnerving, unfamiliar environment.

The Seven Silences: Anger is an immensely depressing piece that will no doubt have you leaving the theatre with a heavy heart. approaching Theatre has effectively crafted a play that brims with genuine emotion as a dark reflection of reality itself, allowing us the space to feel both relief and guilt as we contemplate the weight of our own privileged lives when placed in contrast to the ruined ones displayed onstage.

Performance attended on 12/8/17

The Seven Silences: Anger plays as part of the Chinese Theatre Festival till 13th August at the Centre 42 Black Box. Tickets available here 

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