Review: Extraordinary Wall of Silence at Bristol Old Vic
1 min read
Jenna Morice reviews Ad Infinitum’s Extraordinary Wall of Silence, on at The Weston Studio at Bristol Old Vic until 19 October
The 1880 Milan Conference passed a resolution
banning the use of sign language in schools across the world, declaring
‘Oralism’ as the only worthy form of education. A pivotal moment that would
affect the way D/deaf people were viewed and treated for years to come.
Ad Infinitum’s brand new production at The Weston
Studio at Bristol Old Vic is the product of 40-hours of interviews with Deaf
people from the UK, bringing to light a little-known history of oppression
faced by Deaf people. Through the stories of three lives and the use of three
languages, Ad Infinitum explores how one watershed decision made by hearing
people would create a life of prejudice, ignorance and fear for Deaf people.
Alan, Graham and Helen are all brought up
believing they are impaired and need fixing. Quite literally. A symbolic
construction tool-kit brings an uncomfortable physicality to the methods of
‘fixing’ deployed. From Helen’s agonising cochlear implant, causing unbearable
tinnitus, Graham’s insufferable speech therapy, to the shame that leads Alan’s
religious family to send him to a hearing school where he is tormented by
students and teachers alike. All three enter adulthood without the
communication skills necessary to a world dominated by the hearing.
Through spoken word, BSL and Ad Infinitum’s
signature style of storytelling through physical language, all three lives
weave together to confront the ignorance and abuse faced by the Deaf community.
The cast, made up of three deaf actors and one hearing actor, pose poignant
questions to the audience, presenting hearing people with facts that have
almost gone undocumented.
The culmination of three languages, tense
sound-stylings of Sam Halmanack and a commanding performance from David
Ellington, Matthew Gurney, Moria Anne McAuslan and Deborah Pugh, make for
multi-sensory insights into an untold story.