Breaking the Silence follows the story of a Jewish grandmother, mother and daughter. The grandmother is an Auschwitz survivor with a dark secret, the mother feels burdened by her mother’s memories and the daughter is intent on researching and uncovering her family’s history.
It is a shame that, at times, the script is laboured and obvious. It feels as though every possible sub-plot that could be found has been piled into each scene, meaning that the actual plot is frequently deviated from and not given time to subtly develop. This is not helped by a lack of proper attention given to the depth of each character. The script is constantly snapping each character’s emotional state from one extreme to the next, which feels unnatural and forced.
Stylistically, I feel that the play doesn’t know what it wants to be. It opens with the grandma’s deceased brother talking about the ghetto they lived in during World War Two. It is a strong opening and looked promising, however this underpinning character seems to be lost fairly early on and revisited too few times throughout.
The scene transitions were scrappy and too long; it was if they wanted to be epic theatre in style with regard to onstage costume changes but then hid away under a layer of lighting changes and music. At one point, out of nowhere, the daughter makes an appearance imitating a table, crouched on the floor while holding two champagne flutes aloft. She then launches into what seems to be some form of contemporary dance as an aside to a dialogue between the mother and grandma, every so often reaching into the scene to fill the glasses. There was absolutely no need for this. A similar routine was employed in a later scene. These stylistic choices felt out of place and detracted from the scenes they were supposed to be focusing upon.
Furthermore, when a stylistic choice starts to blend well it is overcomplicated by an unnecessary layer. For instance, at one point a soundscape is built, crescendoing into an unsettlingly effective underscore. Then yet again out of nowhere, a character offstage starts to dramatically repeat the word ‘spiderwebs’ over and over again in time to the music. The only relevance this has to the scene is that one of the characters had previously pointed out an abundance of spiderwebs in another character’s wardrobe.
The themes of the play are interesting and at points the acting can be engaging. However, the play would need a complete stylistic and text based overhaul to improve.