End the Silence
6th December 2018
The art of an effective theatrical production is one that is able to convey a message through the interplay of an effective storyline, dramatised by actors with passion, and effectively directed to bring the true essence of the message to light. This play did exactly that. From my perspective, the play left me troubled, which in this context was a good thing. The message was singular in delivery – for too long we have seen the abuse of vulnerable people, be it physical, emotional or sexual, by people in positions of responsibility, only to become further victims by society when their voice is not heard. The title of the play 'End the Silence' was a plea to do exactly that. End the silence of institutionalised 'cover-ups' and systemic crimes against those with little power inflicted by those with greater power…End the silence of the facade and disempowerment of dependents that is clothed even within religious garb.
It is along these themes that this play, written and directed by accomplished playwriter Mark Grey, managed to tackle and succeed. Performed on Saturday 1 December to an intimate audience setting at the Oval House Theatre, the stage was set for two hours of powerful drama from a cast of actors dedicated to the cause.
End the Silence follows the struggles of six women in their fight for equality, justice, and to have their voices heard. The play examines the intoxication of power, its ability to corrupt, and the route to healing and restoration
Centred around Rebuild, a UK charity where prominent employees led by Levi Harrington (played by Joseph Quartson) for many years have preyed on and abused the broken, vulnerable women it was incorporated to serve. Its survival has been predicated on the assurance of the silence of its victims. But Levi's wife Connie Harrington, also subject to years of physical and emotional abuse decided to end her silence and speak out. After her, beneficiaries of Rebuild, Abi, Marianne, and Sophia follow. All of whom had kept silent for fear that speaking out would jeopardise their aid and threaten the lives of their loved ones and their communities.
The play provides a sophisticated interplay between the main accusing protagonist Catherine Lansing (played by Eshe Asante) and Levi Harrington, where she is determined at all costs to expose his cover-ups and sexual exploitations. However, the hard-hitting Lansing meets her match with the evasive and conniving Harrington who ably transfers his exploitation skills to demise and ridicule any accusations made against him. Fellow colleague of Levi, Matt (played by Joshua Anderson-Grey) disassociates himself from Levi's activities, but whilst not condoning his actions, stands by his colleague. However as one who himself was the victim of exploitation, perceptively discerns Lansing's true motive for her aggressive approach in desiring to bring Levi down. The play effectively raises the issue of victimisation when power is not only achieved but also when it is sought after.
The play certainly ushers you into the story from its commencement and keeps you gripped to the end through its plot twists, suspense and captivating acting. It leaves you with a sense of responsibility to examine one's own actions in light of the victimisation of others and asks one question ‒ what efforts are being made to use your voice to 'end the silence?'.
[Richard Daly (Photos - Aaron Fenton-Hewitt)]