The Silence of Snow: The Life of Patrick Hamilton

Mark Farrelly’s The Silence of Snow is a charming and funny, if not particularly deep, depiction of the life of Soho author Patrick Hamilton, best known for penning Rope and Hangover Square. Farrelly, who is both the writer and solo performer of the show, does an admirable job. He is affable and easy to watch and consequently this is a rather apt description of the show itself. His Hamilton is a grandly comic figure who occasionally slips into the grandiosely camp, but is not always easy to love.

The Silence of Snow is quite a solid work that has its moments of purity.

The script is variable. There is, as one would expect from a play about a writer, a delight in the possibilities of language. Memorably, Hamilton’s doctor tells him that, due to his alcoholism, he is “committing suicide in instalments.” Jumping from one loveless marriage to the next, Hamilton comments that he has “fallen in hate” once again. However, these little gems constitute the high point of a script that can otherwise seem repetitive and slow moving.

The trouble with biographical art is that life, unlike art, never needs to look good and Hamilton’s life just seems like an endless loop of drinking heavily and making bitchy comments in between sips. This formula, which seems promising at first glance, does begin to drag. There are clever intrusions of Hamilton’s fiction which liven up the proceedings and the minor characters, like Hamilton’s novels, are delightfully Dickensian.

Less successful is Hamilton’s seemingly constant slew of new women. These women seem to oddly blur and shade into one another. Given the degree to which they are central to Hamilton’s life, this seems bizarre. In one scene Hamilton invites his two wives as well as his much beleaguered brother but the social gathering descends quickly into senseless abuse. All well and good. But the problem is that we never understand why he is giving out the abuse and what’s even worse who he’s really abusing. This confusion drains any potential for drama from the scene.

The Silence of Snow is quite a solid work that has its moments of purity. If it fails to say anything interesting about its subject, it does not fail in being pretty entertaining.  

Reviews by Rory Mackenzie

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The Blurb

The shocking untold true story of Patrick Hamilton, 1930s author of Rope, Gaslight and Hangover Square. Hugely powerful and blade-sharp truth telling from a witty and penetrating Soho alcoholic. A chaotic life laid bare to answer the question: How is it you can get to the end of your life without ever feeling that another human being ever truly knew you? Written and performed by Mark Farrelly (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, West End), directed by Festival legend Linda Marlowe. Prior to London run.