Silence is based on a non-fiction book by journalist Kavita Puri who interviewed people who lived through the partition of India in 1947 and subsequently settled in the UK.
The play is co-authored by Sonali Bhattacharyya, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Ishy Din and Alexandra Wood and is structured as a series of individual stories joined loosely by the thread of a journalist trying to coax her elderly father into talking about his own experiences.
Partition is not an event in history I know much about, which is what immediately drew me to the play, and for that, it is a good introduction. These are real experiences of trauma from a country suddenly divided on religious grounds. Friends turned enemies overnight because of a line drawn on a map and the atrocities and violence that result when people are othered.
The staging is simple, with large panels of cloth hanging towards the back of the stage, onto which there are projections. These can be turned at different angles.
Simple but devastating divide
A piece of string is used to denote how the country was carved up with religious groups designated to certain areas. And chalk lines depict train tracks now dissected by the 'border'.
However, the staging is such that it pushes the actors towards the front of the stage, and the production doesn't make the most of the Donmar's thrust with much of the performance played forwards, neglecting those sitting to the sides.