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Stepping Out in Association with Chrysalis Theatre presents

Five Kinds of Silence by Shelagh Stephenson directed by Chris Loveless


Cast: Olivia Dennis, Anthony Hoskyns,

Zach Lee, Violet Ryder, Tessa Wood



‘I love my family. I love them more than what you might call normal…’



Billy is dead, definitely dead. To make sure of it, both his daughters shot him. As the gun smoke clears, his family can breathe again - but decades of fear do not melt away so easily.


A new life beckons. A better life. A life without black eyes and broken ribs. A life without a father for a lover. Yet every time they close their eyes, they see him: vengeful and malignant.


Billy is dead. But not gone.  



Five Kinds of Silence is an unflinchingly honest and deeply insightful portrait of a family broken by madness and systematic abuse. 



Winner; UK Writer’s Guild - Best Original Play

Winner; Sony Award – Best Original Drama


What’s on Stage review
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… a very potent analysis of a family driven to murder by years of abuse at the hands of a sadistic bully of a husband and father, Billy, played with terrifying ferocity by Zach Lee.

…it’s an unrelentingly grim experience, but one which retains a sense of hope in the human spirit. Director Chris Loveless gets the balance just right.

…there are some fine moments, such as when one daughter describes how she wants “to make everything better” for her father… this is beautifully done by Olivia Dennis, and the performances by Tessa Wood as the mother and Violet Ryder as the other daughter are equally strong.

Time Out
It requires particular courage of an actor to play the kind of unreconstructed psychopath we meet in Billy – and in this competent production directed by Chris Loveless for Stepping Out Theatre (a group specialising in work on mental health themes), Zach Lee more than rises to the challenge. His performance is pure lean, musclebound menace, shot through with an equally disturbing seam of vulnerability… There’s some good work from the rest of the cast, too – particularly Violet Ryder as the elder daughter, Janet – and the writing contains some beautiful lyrical passages… Stephenson’s play is a brave exposť of abuse which, as its title implies, too often remains hidden behind veils of silence.

Plays International
This is a play that could be too harrowing to watch easily, but director Chris Loveless and a stunning cast have created a totally gripping piece of theatre which, while deeply moving, allows us to engage with compassion and even with hope. The relationship between the two daughters, superbly played with sensitive restraint by Violet Ryder and Olivia Dennis, is tender and truthful, and Zach Lee as Billy can change from beautiful to monstrous in a moment and is always charismatic. This extraordinary production runs to February 17th - it had pin-drop attention and passionate applause from the full-house first-night audience so if you're anywhere near London, book while you can.

The Public Reviews
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As Billy, the father, Zach Lee is stunning, making it perfectly credible that the three women could loathe and love him at the same time; his character is both a perpetrator and a victim of violence, suffering from alcoholism and epilepsy, yet, however monstrously he behaves, the actor is still able to eke out a degree of sympathy for him. As Mary, the mother, Tessa Wood gives a moving performance, her character was a neglected child who seemed cast by nature into the role of victim; yet she is aware of her own inability to stop the abuse and, understanding that it crosses generations, she is determined that she does not want grandchildren. Violet Ryder plays Janet, the older daughter as clear-thinking and resolute in determining the only way to end the horror, but equally vulnerable and prone to emotional outbursts. Olivia Dennis plays her younger sister Susan as more confused by her own emotions and racked by personal guilt. Anthony Hoskyns as the women’s interrogator completes the quintet of fine actors.

The performances throughout are outstanding. Anthony Hoskyns provides solid support as the straight-man ensemble (Policeman / Lawyer / Psychiatrist), and provides the leading players enough room to shine. Violet Ryder plays Janet with schizophrenic energy, in turns hysterical and uncertain, beautiful and broken, unsure of herself and her place in this strange world in which she finds herself. Tessa Wood alone as Mary injects some lightness of touch into proceedings; the scenes where his timorous wife happily tells us that Billy would have been pleased that his shirt looks so neat as he lies on the ground filled with bullets, and proudly lists the groceries in the kitchen, are greatly needed to lift the air of unending doom. She movingly hints at a happier past, filled with innocence, dancing, and glasses of port & lemon, yet now is a mere husk of a woman, bereft of her dreams and unable to recognise the destructive power of her love for Billy. Olivia Dennis is outstanding as Susan; bolshy, ashamed and gloriously twitchy, constantly gathering her cardigan around her like an aegis and stubbornly batting away any attempts at emotional extraction attempted by her inquisitors, including herself. Also outstanding is Zach Lee as Billy; his is a dervish of a performance. At points he is squirming and crawling around the floor like Gollum, literally spitting out his recollections and daydreams with visceral intensity, and at others he lurks in the shadows of the stage, steering the thoughts and deeds of the women during their inquisition even after death like an aphotic, undead sentinel, making what use he can from the scant staging. White Bear has a little gem on its hands here, and deserves to see many more full houses on its way through February.
Verdict: 4.5 /5

Stepping Out Theatre -  Producer

Founded in 1997, and with 39 productions to its credit, Stepping Out Theatre is the country’s leading mental health theatre group. It has produced a wide range of work on mental health themes and is open to people who have used mental health services and their allies. It offers mental health service users the opportunity to work alongside people with professional experience of writing, directing and acting, some of whom are service users themselves. The group has won two national awards in recognition of its high quality and groundbreaking work in mental health.





Chris Loveless - Director                                                             

Chris trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He has worked at/for: Ambassador Theatre Group, BBC TV, Bristol Old Vic, C venues Chambers Street, The Dukes, European Ballet, The Finborough, Hackney Empire, The Lowry, Lyric Hammersmith, National Youth Theatre, Novello Theatre Ascot, Okai Collier Company, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, Theatre Royal Bath & Ustinov, Theatre West, Tobacco Factory & The Brewery, and the Union Theatre, amongst many others. Chris is Artistic Director of Fallen Angel Theatre Company and an associate director of the White Bear Theatre and Stepping Out Theatre Company. His productions have received widespread critical acclaim and several have been named critics’ choice by the Evening Standard or Time Out. He has twice been awarded Arts Council Grants for the Arts individual funding for his work, and in 2010 was nominated for the Off West End Theatre Award for Best Director. Chris is the incoming Resident Director of The Ashton Group in South Cumbria.





Laura Clark - Designer

Laura Clark trained in Professional Theatre Design at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 2010. Set and costume designs for theatre include The Country Wife (Bristol Old Vic), Born/The World Outside (Forest Forge Theatre), The Most Gorgeous Lady Blessington (Tangent Theatre, Wallace Collection London), Twelfth Night, My Cousin Charles & Much Ado (adaptations, White Horse Theatre, Germany). Set and costume design for film includes Henry VIII Book promo video http://vimeo.com/25355300, Templar Publishing, and Two Extremes, Dir. Sarah Punshon, Bristol. See more of Laura's work at www.lauradesigns.co.uk


Paul Micah - Lighting Designer and Stage Manager

Paul Micah is a freelance lighting and Sound designer as well as a technician based in London. He has been working in theatre for many years as a freelance technician and stage manager, and has found a passion for lighting and sound design. As a technician he has been based at the Paul Robeson theatre and the Broadway theatre, designing lights and sound for a variety of incoming companies that are hiring the space. The latest being for Bounce Theatre Company. Most recent shows for lighting design include Freedom at the Arcola Theatre, followed by a UK Tour: Two Brothers and One World Cup, Bugsy at Alra studios, The Crossing at the Mosaic festival, London, Uravugal dance festival at the Watersmeet Theatre and Glee at The Tramshed Theatre.

As a sound designer, he has designed many theatre shows, films and live events, including fashion shows and carnivals. He has created backing tracks for children’s shows and dance schools working alongside directors and choreographers, and has collaborated with musicians playing live to enhance the overall sound of the show - he even played saxophone in Two Brothers and One World Cup. In addition to working in theatre, Paul has lit concerts, exhibitions and dance performances. He is currently in pre-production for an adaption of Canterbury Tales which will tour round Spain in late spring.





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Olivia Dennis - Susan

For Stepping Out: Leonie in Mascara, Lizzie in Flaming Crackers, Mel in Flaming Voices, Third Wheeler in Madhampton.co.uk and He Liked to Look in The Vagina Monologues. Other theatre credits include Camilla in Three Women and Kelly in Jellied Eels with Theatre West, Faith in Asylum Monologues with Ice and Fire Theatre Co, Mary in Madhouse and Tuppy in Messabout with Bristol Experimental Theatre Co, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night with Hecate Theatre Co, Sally May in Sally May with The Motley Theatre Co, Edith in Blithe Spirit with Broken Clock Productions, Margarita in Cant Pay Won’t Pay with RoughHouse Theatre, Rose in Cloudstreet with Riding Lights Theatre Co and Celia in As You Like It with York Shakespeare Co. Film includes Marie in Smokescreen with Head in the Clouds Productions and Reyes in Bloodlust with Gwenhwyfar Productions. TV credits include Yenna in The Barbarians on Channel 4.






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Anthony Hoskyns - Ensemble

Trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Theatre includes: Romeo and Juliet (BAC) dir. Polly Findlay, She Stoops to Conquer (Nuffield Theatre) dir. Patrick Sandford, Lonestar and As You Like It (O.S.O.) dir. Ross Livingstone, Blavatsky's Tower (Brockley Jack) dir. Chris Loveless, The Age of Consent (The Drill Hall) dir. Kevin Trainor. Television and Radio includes: Trinity (ITV2) dir. Colin Teague, Eastenders (BBC 1) dir. Nick Philips, A Dance to the Music of Time (BBC Radio 4).






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Zach Lee - Billy

Theatre: For Hull Truck: Bouncers (7 productions), A Weekend In England, Trucktacular Tales, The Playwrite Festival, Up ‘n’ Under, Glass Menagerie, Dr Faustus, Ballroom Blitz, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs and A Christmas Carol, at venues including the West End, the National Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and on tour in most theatres across the UK. Zach was an original cast member in John Godber’s plays Unleashed (4 productions) and Reunion, for which he received a nomination for Best Actor at the 2003 Manchester Evening News Awards.

Other credits: Nick Lane’s The Derby McQueen Affair (York Theatre Royal), The Great Bitter Lake (Oldham Coliseum), The Tooth Of Crime, Cinderella, Fair Play, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Remote Control, Rules of Ownership, Ivan-a Miscarriage of Justice, One More Head on the Block and three versions of Mainbrace Theatres 1998 TAPS/BAFTA Best new Play Award Winner: The Life and Times of Young Bob Scallion.

Television: Young Dracula 3 (CBBC), Crime Traveller, Class Act (ITV), The Elbow Room (BBC), The Contract, Sickness & Health, Feelgood Factor, Teddy (CH4) and both series of Lynda La Plante's The Governor (ITV).

Film: Caleb Lindsey’s first two full length Features: Chasing Dreams and Hard Edge.

For Zach’s own outfit, Stripes Theatre Company, credits include: Two Brothers and One World Cup (Edinburgh Fringe Festival & tour), Geoffrey Ramsbottom – Man of the ‘90s (Tabard Theatre), and Christine in Love (Canal Cafe Theatre).

2012 work includes a promo for upcoming feature film Ms Guided Angel, Round the Twist (Eastern Angles), Treasure Island (Harrogate Theatre), Little Red Riding Hood (Carousel Theatre), various voiceovers on Young Dracula 4 and a play reading of Sherica (24/7 Festival/Shred Productions) directed by Trevor MacFarlane.





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Violet Ryder - Janet

Violet trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. She has toured with Kneehigh Theatre’s Brief Encounter (2009) and performed as Jane Bennett in Bath Theatre Royal’s Pride and Prejudice (2010). Earlier this year, Violet played Juliet in physical theatre company Action To The Word’s modern adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. Violet was nominated Best Female Performer at The Offies 2011 and won Best Supporting Performance for the DarkChat Edinburgh Festival Awards 2011 for her portrayal of Olive Young in the theatrical debut of Lullabies of Broadmoor - a Broadmoor Quartet.




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Tessa Wood - Mary

Tessa was born and grew up in East Yorkshire before training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. After spells in repertory theatre, Tessa went into the first West End production of The Rocky Horror Show, Annie, Copper Kingdom, They’re Playing Our Song, and Number One Tours of Once a Catholic and A Bedfull of Foreigners with the legendary Mandy Rice-Davies. More recent credits include The Magic Hour at The Soho Theatre, Memories of Loss and Orpheus & Eurydice - both at The Riverside, Hammersmith. Film roles include Boy George’s mother in Somebody to Love Me with Diane Kruger and the comic-book heroine Freeze Girl in the award-winning Swoosh! Tessa has just finished an enjoyable run of The Supper Party at The Tabard, Chiswick, and is delighted to be returning to The White Bear where she played The Grand Duchess, Elizabeth Fyodorovna in The Just by Camus a few years ago. She is married and lives in West London.



Press Night: Thursday 31st January, 7:30pm



Listings info:


The White Bear Theatre, 138 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4DJ

Box Office: 020 7793 9193 or book online via www.ticketsource.co.uk

Tuesday 29th January - Sunday 17th February 2013.

Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7:30pm. Sundays at 6pm.

Tickets £13 and £10.

Performance running time: approx. 90 mins.

Not suitable for children.


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Photography by Michael Brydon

Directed by

Chris Loveless