The Silent Treatment – Summerhall

Written by Sarah-Louise Young

Directed by Sioned Jones

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It would seem singers and Mermaids have something in common: sometimes, it takes losing their voice to realise aspects they long forgot and push them to embark on an unexpected, though necessary journey.

With loose tones of The Little Mermaid (with only an ounce of some Kate Bush), The Silent Treatment infuses storytelling with song and revelation. Taken from their true-to-life experiences, Sarah-Louise Young’s latest venture embarks on her experience with having throat surgery to remove two cysts present since childhood. And as anyone in the music industry knows, this kind of operation is the last resort – coming with the concern it could change their life forever.

Intimate, Sarah-Louise Young’s ability to forge a connection with the audience before they’ve taken a pew is extraordinary and vital for the sensitivity and nature of the show. Quite literally warming up as they enter, sharing tongue twisters and doing the usual vocal exercises, any familiar with Young’s previous works has no questions surrounding her ability. Yet, The Silent Treatment may contain gloriously beautiful song numbers and sequences – it never feels like a musical or revue, rather, it’s a dynamic used to further the storytelling.

The composition alone of the music takes a starring role, for vocal numbers and a backing score – Christopher Ash sculpting a tone which compliments the dark humour, or indeed the more pathos-infused moments. Young’s adlibbing is a tremendous bonus for audiences – often welcome and demonstrating the speed of delivery and wit found within the piece’s writing.

There seems to be a concern to fill time, to ensure the audience isn’t wavering from the narrative or Young’s presence. Unfortunately, these concerns are ill-founded, and the approaches outside of the spoken word or song moments quickly move from pleasant or humorous, to mildly overused. And something in Young’s performance suggests they recognise this, the puppetry, and the mime work all offer a benefit at first, but quickly lose steam or relevance.

A siren in her own right, Young utilises her voice for good – rather than the stuff of legend. Hypnotic, and deeply personal, The Silent Treatment is a journey most audiences may never venture down – the abject terror of being silenced for an extended period, unsure if your career, your passion, will end once you re-open your mouth. Dipping into fantasy in spells, the reality of premise and enthusiasm Young exudes makes their semi-biographical show a delight to be a part of.

‘Connects with the audience

The Silent Treatment runs at Summerhall until August 28th (not 22nd).

Tickets for which may be obtained here.

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