views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Silver Sisters
Etcetera Theatre
18th August 2015


Publicity image for Silver Sisters

Photography © Silver Sisters

When's the last time you got in touch with your feminine side? If it's been a while, Silver Sisters will try to change that. The pair are made up of Silver Moon (aka Kate Joyner) and Rah Da Silver (aka Alexa Smith). The two women practise different art forms, but are very much both focused on understanding and exploring femininity. (Yes, boys, you are invited - as Joyner points out, everyone has masculine and female elements to them, there's no straightforward gender divide.)

Going first, Joyner delivers a half-hour poetry reading titled Whispers of the Mystical from the Dark Side of the Moon. Although she introduces her set with another's poem, the substance to Whispers of the Mystical is roughly a dozen short poems penned by Joyner herself. These tackle not only emotions, also some of the more physical aspects to the feminine (periods, for those of you who can't read between the lines).

Joyner is very much a spiritual person and even if you aren't, it's very obvious that her writing has great significance for her, and this creates a certain powerful intensity in the room. She has a wonderfully melodious and sensual voice which lends itself well to recitals like these, and keeps us drawn in, even when we don't particularly identify with a piece. For me, her writing with the most impact came in the form of musings on Disney heroes, and her sentiment that she didn't want to be rescued, but that didn't mean she didn't not want someone to be there with her. It's a very honest and relatable admission - being a feminist doesn't mean hating men, and that's often not well understood. Different verses will resonate, it's a very personal show, but there will be at least something in her collection which you connect with. (If you're male, probably not the menses poem.)

The atmosphere shifts when Smith launches into a piece of physical theatre called Tannasso and the Wounded Wild. Tannasso is a tribal woman who communicates to us in an entirely made up language which although invented in the moment rather than scripted, definitely has European roots. Any romance linguists or Latin scholars will be able to unpick what Smith is saying quite easily. Whilst we're meant to focus on the intonation and the feeling created by Smith's sheer expressiveness, it is entirely possible to create our own Rosetta Stone and cheat.

Tannasso is a hunter, who clearly lives in basic conditions and doesn't have much. However, she's willing to share what she does have with us, inviting us into her home for a meal. Whilst we deliberate as to whether we want to take her up on her kind offer and disappear into the night with a stranger armed with a bow and arrows, Tannasso tells us of her partner, their home, and their very large brood of children. It's not just pleasantries though, Tannasso also shares a very personal pain, by telling us of her partner's rage and how that impacts on her.

The dialogue is quite repetitive - that does help us learn the vocabulary for this made up new language, however it's at the detriment of the pacing and by allowing us to find meaning in this way, we do perhaps respond in a more cerebral manner rather than an emotional one. I sense Smith would prefer us to connect on a far more instinctive basis, so it makes sense to limit the number of times she dwells on an idea or explanation.

It's also unclear as to what extent this is meant to be an interactive show. Tannasso speaks to the audience, but we don't know if there is meant to be a fourth wall, or if Smith genuinely wants us to engage. Given the intimacy of this piece, I think making it more immersive would work well - addressing greetings to specific members of the audience and touching them to make clear they should reply back, inviting some to sit next to her fire, maybe even giving some of the audience a precious gift - it could be as simple as a polished rock. It's an interesting show, with possibilities to develop further.

Both Joyner and Smith are genuinely passionate about their aims, and this really does shine through in their delivery. An intriguing and beguiling double act.

Silver Sisters opened on 17th August and runs until 20th August at the Etcetera Theatre, as part of the Camden Fringe. The first half, Whispers of the Mystical from The Dark Side of The Moon, will next run from 23rd to 26th August 2015 at Spotlites, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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