The Silent Treatment ★★★★★

If you are seeking an alluring and provocative, highly personal one person show, delivered by a hugely talented performer, look no further than The Silent Treatment.

Award-winning performer Sarah-Louise Young, has spoken candidly about the physical, emotional and professional impacts she felt when she lost her voice. And it’s this lived experience that forms her latest solo effort, The Silent Treatment, playing at Summerhall throughout the Fringe.  

Given the intensely personal subject matter, the show represents a turn left from the more comic approaches of her previous turns, An Evening Without Kate Bush (also playing this Fringe) and Julie Madly Deeply. Which is not to say that there aren’t funny moments here. The overall tone is darkly humorous, but this time the laughs come with a healthy dose of pathos.

Photo by Steve Ullathorne

Solo shows often hinge on an audience’s connection with the performer in question. Fortunately, Young is an effervescent, engaging presence, as adept at delivering a caustic line as she is at belting out a show tune. Her quick wit, when given the opportunity to adlib, is often employed to winning effect here.

Several approaches, including soliloquies, song, mime and props, are used to drive forward the show’s narrative. So, it’s not entirely unexpected that some occasionally work better than others. Scenes using glove puppets, for example, are amusing but possibly overplayed. 

The overall hit rate is high, however. A deeply traumatic episode from Young’s youth is recalled in a way that could have been cloying in clumsier hands. But, here, the effect is heart breaking. And when she talks frankly about the, sometimes deliberate, lack of care often afforded to performers, it’s hard not to feel chilled by the impact of her words. 

An alluring and, at times, provocative experience, The Silent Treatment will doubtlessly add to the list of plaudits Young has already enjoyed.  

The Silent Treatment should be seen and heard – The Recs is happily shouting ★ (5 stars)

The Silent Treatment

The Silent Treatment plays at Summerhall Anatomy Lecture Theatre at 13:50 until Sunday 28 August.

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