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  • Henry Longstaff

The Silence and the Noise - Online

Tom Powell’s devastating play is adapted for the screen

Rachelle Diedericks (Daize) and William Robinson (Ben) in The Silence and the Noise


After touring an audio version of Powell’s Papatango Prize-winning play, the piece has been transposed into film and is available to stream free for six weeks. The heartbreaking story of coercion and cruel manipulation through county-line drug dealing retains its theatrical roots but uses the tools of film to amplify the story further.

Ben and Daize are two teenagers caught in the crossfire. Him, working the rural streets selling on behalf of his off-screen dealer Beetle and her, the daughter of an addict, dependent on Beetle’s supply. There is an element of Romeo and Juliet here, two unlikely compatriots finding solace with one another - though a shortage of trust installs immediate distance between them. Fighting for their survival on opposite sides of the fence, their childish naivety is repeatedly stripped away forcing them to recognise the true culprits for their situation - the faceless figures that by proxy have exploited them, risking any sense of a future they might still have left.

Powell’s writing is strong, shaping authentic characters that are acutely aware of the danger facing them but unwilling to acknowledge it. The characterisation occasionally moves a little fast but not in unconvincing directions, allowing us to stay connected to the pair as they become more comfortable around each other. The plot is nothing particularly new or unpredictable but it succeeds in developing rich characters without over-glamorising their struggles, ensuring the piece stays grounded and authentic. Rachelle Diedericks (Daize) and William Robinson (Ben) form a believable duo as they hurl insults at each other - their mechanism of self-preservation rather than an attempt to wound. When the words cut deeper than expected, glimmers of adolescent vulnerability escape, ultimately bringing the two closer together.

Though captured for the screen, the play still feels like a play, recorded on location rather than on a stage, adding a credible backdrop to the proceedings. Directors Elle While and Rachel Lambert bring us closer than would be possible on stage to the action, giving space for the actors to add subtler details into their deliveries and to push their performances further. The lighting is particularly excellent - casting shadows over faces during arguments to emphasise their differing perspectives. This is a clear success in transitioning this play onto film, furthering its life and enabling wider audiences to hear this important story of two lost rural teenagers.

The Silence & the Noise is free to stream for the next six weeks on Youtube.

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