Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Silent @ The Irish Arts Center

Silent, now playing at the Irish Arts Center, is a one man show exploring the life of Tino McGoldrig.  Written and performed by Pat Kinevane, it has a unique tone, wistful and lyrical where many would be self-pitying.   Silent comes to New York with excellent notices and awards, and proves quickly it deserves the advanced press.
Tino is short for Valentino, his father being a great fan of film icon Rudolph Valentino.   This tie to old silent movies gives life to Tino’s storytelling.  He speaks not only verbally but physically.  The character often loses himself in the language of movement – so integral to the old silents.  Tino is wildly expressive and in moments it seems only movement can give voice to his thoughts and demons.
Pat Kinevane as Tino McGoldrig
With this ability, Pat Kinevane breathes a unique life into the character of Tino McGoldrig; giving him the ability to engage the audience on multiple emotional levels.
Silent is, at least in part, an explanation of how Tino had, and then lost, the middle class life.  Central to the story is Pearse, Tino’s brother, a gay young man who was bullied by the boys at school and, more cruelly, his own mother.  Mr. Kinevane inhabits the character of “mother” with no mercy.  If there were reasons for the mother’s mistreatment of Pearse, we don’t see them.  If this were a play about Pearse, this would be a problem.  But because we are looking at mother through Tino's eyes it is an explanation.
Pearse’s later suicide weighs on Tino, ruining his relationship with his mother and leaving him progressively more guilt ridden.  He finds solace in the bottle, which corrodes his marriage.  Or does marriage drive him to drink?  Or does he just drink?  Whatever he cause, the slide ultimately leads to a mental breakdown.
Questions arise and then hang in the air, but the character dances among them.  He chooses to answer some.  The others he sidesteps in flights of memory and snippets of Silent movies played in his head and acted out on stage.  Mr. Kinevane’s Tino looks, at first glance, like any homeless person you might see, albeit a little cleaner.  But when the light tightens onto his face and his expressive eyes, Tino is transformed into a performer on the silver screen.  The grime and tattered clothes fade away, and Tino grows in the darkness.
Silent is a terrific piece of theater.  The direction, by Jim Culleton, is more leisurely paced than a current audience might expect or be comfortable with.  It is more paced at the speed of old silent movies, quick action but lingered reaction.  It is supported by wonderful lighting design, created jointly by the Director and the Writer/Actor.  To watch Silent is to step into Tino’s world and be entranced.
Playwright: Pat Kinevane
Director: Jim Culleton
Cast: Pat Kinevane

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