Skip to content


The Rest Is Silence

4 starsPart of the Brighton Festival
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

In 2010 dreamthinkspeak upstaged everything else in Brighton Festival with their smash-hit promenade piece, Before I Sleep. That show, based on The Cherry Orchard, was staged in a decaying building that once housed a much-missed Co-op department store. Two years later, the company is back – and the anticipation for their new piece, The Rest is Silence, is immense.

Here’s where it gets tricky. A big deal was made of the importance of knowing nothing about the show before going to Before I Sleep, and that mind-blowing trip of a show was best experienced with no preconceptions. Which means a lot of people will be off to see The Rest is Silence deliberately knowing very little about it… and therefore not knowing that it’s not much like Before I Sleep at all.

Let’s be clear: ‘deconstruction’ or not, this is a play. It’s a piece of (mostly) linear story telling, presented in a slightly unusual way. It’s very good and some moments are sublime, but it’s a far more reserved piece than dreamthinkspeak’s previous hits, and it doesn’t reach the same giddy heights – or even attempt to. This time around, the twist is that you shouldn’t go expecting the unexpected.

It’s a version of Hamlet, where the audience stand in the centre of the space and the play happens in Perspex boxes all around them. Scenes are chopped around and overlapped – which works very well – and there is a genuinely fresh take on the “To be or not to be” showstopper. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern provide a campy chorus to events and the show seems preoccupied with performance. A lot of the characters are witnessed rehearsing their key speeches before they give them.

Ruth Lass’s Gertrude shines, lost to lust for the boorish but dashing Claudius, though finding her love for her son eventually. Philip Edgerton, as Claudius, also stands out – almost seeming here like the leading man – and his Danish king has something of the lascivious Gene Hunt about him.

Some aspects work less well, but mostly these are external factors. With the play cut back to its bones, Ophelia’s tragedy seems even more abrupt and meaningless. (Though actually, I’ve never seen a version of Hamlet were her story made any sense outside of a shrugging ‘Bitches be crazy’.) And the location is terrible and horribly hard to access by public transport. I would have expected a shuttle bus from Brighton for a trek out of town just half this length, especially as tickets for this show are heftily priced.

But if you can get there, you’ll find genuinely jaw-dropping moments. The neat use of films, and the unusual staging, occasionally produces the feeling being able to step inside a movie. When the show hits those heights, the motifs are clever and unique.

Brighton's White Night >>