THE Unspoken is a thought-provoking play from the pen of talented Jody Medland.
Playing at the quaint Barons Court Theatre in the basement of public house The Curtains Up (London W14) until Saturday September 22, it focuses on the world of Maggie – an excellent Hannah Tarrington. She has been blind since birth and motherless for probably as long (we never quite find out).
Yet her blindness is nothing compared to the brutal control that her father Jimmy (Will Teller) exercises over her. He is physically violent towards her and chains her up at night like a dog – sometimes during the day. A bucket acts as her toilet. ‘Pa Pa,’ he barks at her, ‘not father’. She barks whenever someone comes knocking at the door.
Horrible. Sickening. But Maggie knows no other way and idolises Pa Pa. Her comforts are a radio which Jimmy threatens to take away from her whenever he has deemed she has done something wrong. She also has frequent conversations with her dead mother Aileen (the voice of Lauren Santana) in the dead of night.
Despite the awful violence he metes out, Jimmy loves Maggie. He paints a picture in her mind of a life far removed from the one they are living. He convinces her that they live in a mansion and he is a successful architect. Nothing could be further from the truth. They live in near squalor and Jimmy is a miner (the play is set in the early 1970s) who is terminally ill.
Locked in the house all day and night, only Father Alderton (the voice of Elliot Blagden) seems to care about her outside of dead Mum and bullying Dad. He asks her to unlock the front door so he can help her but she refuses, heeding the words of Jimmy. Father Alderton is not the caring man he portrays. Vile and evil.
The play’s ending is a little trite as Doctor Rose (Blagden in the flesh) comes to Maggie’s ‘rescue’. Without previously seeing her, he has fallen in love with Maggie because of all the things Jimmy has said to him about her in the past. He is both a saviour and someone who has his own issues to deal with (a gammy leg).
All rather tender but somewhat unbelievable. But then chunks of The Unspoken demand the viewer to suspend thoughts of reality.
The Unspoken is an ambitious play, written by a promising playwright and acted by a quality cast. All in a marvellously intimate theatre. Worth an hour of your time if you are prepared to endure the underground (Piccadilly or District Line) and head Barons Court way. Tickets are a bargain at £12 a go – £10 for concessions.