The Silver Bell explores loss, grief and the collision of spirituality and science. What if you had the chance to explore different universes just to see if you could find that one person again? Using this unique concept, Alan Flanagan and Brendan O’Rourke took to the stage using two chairs and a mixture of narration, conversation and simple physical theatre. The story told was heart-warming and moving without the need for anything else, just words and each other.
a story that was heartwarming and moving
When scientist (sorry, doctor!) Mico met aspiring actor James, it started with a nice comedic moment of a finger being placed in a drink. Like most couples, they had their ups and downs, meeting some interesting characters along the way - such as their vibrant landlady who seeks friendship after putting out a call for a gay man to share a house with. Then James was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and that was the end before things really began.
The simple and direct way that Flanagan and O'Rourke tackled this sensitive subject was not only well handled, but explored in such a way that it had the appropriate respect and a subtle comedic touch. An example of this was not long after describing the reality of what was needed to look after James, we learn his mother had nicknamed it 'the falling disease'. Using those three words was both heartbreaking, yet at the same time, the light humour of that phrase brought a grounded sense of humanity to the proceedings. This encourages empathy with those who have experienced similar pain and gives those who have not greater awareness.
It did take a while to realise that there were many James' in many universes as the play progressed, but once we got used to the subtle way that Flanagan and O'Rourke use narration and conversation to depict this, what evolved was an engaging exploration of life after death. The amount of research that had clearly gone into the piece to make everything more believable was interesting to explore and to watch. Scientific facts and spiritual beliefs made the potential of universe hopping possible that evening and left us with a lot of food for thought.
Did Mico find his original James in The Silver Bell? Jump on board with this touring theatre piece and find out for yourselves.