Husband and wife Benjamin and Shiva speak volumes in the silence about the fleeting nature of intimacy and the damning influences of war and suspicion.
There is nothing so painful as a secret hidden in plain sight, and The Silent Households a mystery which unravels with the constancy and slowly deliberate nature of water through stone. From the Iran Saye Theatre, this sensory, psychological thriller redefines the form as it explores the destructive impact of words unspoken and the ruinous impotence of relentless tedium.
Benjamin and Shiva are trapped in a cycle of daily routine, their lives stalled as they await their citizenship. With minimal set and staging we bear witness to the monotony of life, the daily preparation of a meal, the silence between our two actors punctuated by a live soundscape created just out of sight of the audience, as we hear the rattling of pots and pans, tin plates and cutlery. In an attempt to escape the relentlessness of their state, Benjamin and Shiva both wear headphones throughout with Benjamin’s attached to another world where he lives out the strains of Wagner as his pregnant wife Shiva prepares the meal with headphone wire trailing unattached, a hint to her comparative freedom. Though they connect physically, a gentle hand across the back, a smile, a whispered word of encouragement to feel the baby move, every attempt of conversation and connection is thwarted.
Like the human incarnation of repetitive motion injury, The Silent House sees the slow, painful destruction of their relationship. Through the repetition of their daily routine we see the breakdown of their intimacy replaced with a quiet politeness which belies a fierce undercurrent of jealousy. Benjamin Esbati and Shiva Makinian imbue their characters with an intensity and subtlety which was breathtaking to watch, with nuanced movements which spoke volumes in the silence, a look, a fading smile, a tapping foot, the familiarity of a couple in close proximity, anticipating each other’s every movement, overreaction to a small infraction, and moments of weakness, revealed to the audience but concealed from each other.
“The silent house" in the opening day of 73th Off Avignon festival, the 3rd year of cooperation with Garage International company . Written and directed by Mehdi Mashhour Cast: Benyamin Esbati and Mina Zaman pic.twitter.com/BSWNR42YcL
Reviews and Audience Comments
Gratifying, mystifying, mentally and emotionally exhausting, I left the theatre having witnessed an absolutely thrilling piece of theatre in the silence.