Festival REVIEW Silence @Black Rock

May 26, 2019

A ten-foot tall creature wearing flowing robes unveils a shabby bus from which disembark a group of ragged men, women and children. It’s certainly an arresting image, the first of many from Poland’s Teatr Biuro Podrozy which looks at the lives of these civilians both before and after the military takeover.

Culture is constantly contrasted with brutality. A large sculpture of a head (Jesus? Plato? I’m not really sure) is lifted up on to the bus as plaintive violin music eerily envelopes the wasteland at Black Rock. A man is later seen producing the music by moving a bow across the stems of flowers but then a bucket of blood is thrown, staining his white shirt red. So, yes, it’s not exactly subtle. Then the military are back with their pounding industrial rock, terrifying the population with wheels of fire or riding at them on motorcycle-driven chariots. A death-like figure on stilts rings a bell whilst pulling a child’s wooden horse. It looks fantastic but if it’s trying to tell us about a child’s loss of innocence during war it’s perhaps a tad simplistic.

Silence is an amazing experience which works at the level of pure spectacle. Though the philistine in me would advise against applying too much thought and instead just revel in its beautiful, violent theatricality.