A pause speaks volumes which is an ironic thing considering what a pause actually is. A temporary stop, a rest, frozen mid-life for all to see yet you are still in motion. You hesitate and stop yourself because doubt and uncertainty has clouded your mind. Silence is an old friend you don’t get to visit often, offering a cup of tea and shoulder to cry on. And laughter is always with you, waiting for the most inappropriate times to make an appearance. These three aspects of life trend to be hiding in the background yet keeping us company when we need it most. They are always waiting for the lights to be slowly lit so they can have their moment centre stage in the spotlight and tell their story.
A big thank you to Jordan Toney for sending me his collection of plays Pause/Silence/Laughter: And Other Plays. I hugely encourage you all to check out his work and bask in his artistic vision. Another favourite author has been added to my list! This is what I love about the writing community. You never know when you are going to discover something new and exciting. Writers who have the same passion for literature as you and just want to show the world their creativity. Go, explore and dive into something new today, your imagination will love you for it.
Pause/Silence/Laughter: And Other Plays is five thought-provoking short plays that force you to ask yourself a ton of questions, which I think personally is always a good thing. Are we capable of time travel? Do we ever deal with the loss of a loved one? Will the past always be our future? Are we all secretly connected to each other through our dreams? And what happens when the world decides to leave you behind?
Pauses, silence and laughter are key characters. Toney uses them effectively and with great flair to really set the atmosphere on stage and engage the audience. Like the secret ingredient to your signature dish, you have to get it just so or the flavour will be off. Yet fear not reader, there is no harm of that here as Toney is in his element, his kitchen if you will and he is the head chef. Allow me to say now, my compliments to the chef. *Raises glass* Let’s tuck in to this divine five course meal shall we?
In Photographs the main character Billy is struggling to come to terms with the events of his life up until this point. He reaches out to the audience asking them questions, desperate for answers that will satiate his need to remember. Something we can all relate to. My heart shattered as I read the scene were Billy is talking to his mother. I was a mess, tears tumbling down my face accompanied by loud ugly sob noises.
‘Can you hear me? (Pause) Everyone else can see her, right? (Pause) I want to hold her and tell her the world is going to be fine.’
It reminded me that even though we grow up, we can easily revert back to being a scared lost child needing the monsters to be chased away. When we are young our parents are our world, our everything. The thought of losing them and being left alone is too much to bear but it is unfortunately something we all go through. The ugly harsh reality of the world we live in. Toney’s portrayal of this loss of innocence is bewitching to read and extremely relatable.
‘You’re all SITTING there watching me go through this and what does any of it mean to you’
The audience is just the spectator, watching and not doing anything. Something so true and real in the world we live in. We sit in our comfy homes, warm and fed while thousands of miles away there are people with no roof over their heads starving. The truth of it is, what can you do about it all? You can only do what you can and be a decent human being; show some humanity in times like these. You feel helpless and know it’s happening but again can’t click your fingers and make it all better. Toney holds up a mirror to the audience showing them how helpless we all can be. We tend to just watch and not do anything about it. It’s intense writing and I love it.
Pause/Silence/Laughter reminded me a lot of an old black and white silent film. So much is said through body language and actions. No words are needed to tell the story and it’s spectacular to read. Within seconds Toney sets the scene for the madness that sets in after losing a loved one. His characters all have secrets and struggle to come to terms with them, causing them to lose patience and break down exposing the audience to their weaknesses. It reminds the audience that we are all only human after all.
Ever had a dream where you are continuously stuck in an annoying, frustrating loop that you can’t seem to break out of? That’s what The Clown And The Train Station reminded me of. You play out the same day over and over again (much like life at times) with no hope of freedom. The ticking of the clock is a constant reminder that although we may feel stuck we are always moving forward. We are all guilty of living in the past and have struggled to move forward. It’s human nature and one of our downfalls in life.
Silent plays are beautiful because we can escape the noise that follows us everyday and just enjoy the silence. Sometimes words are not needed to tell a story, you can see with your own eyes the pain and love in someones actions. Our bodies speak louder than our voices ever could.
It’s strange to think that we live everyday sometimes not even knowing who the people are who live down the road. A world full of faces yet we don’t know their stories. Although we are all different and unique, we have similar tenderness. We all have regrets in life, some people choose to accept it while others dwell on what could have been. The characters in Alack Alack desperately want to feel something, to be understood and to connect. We have all had that feeling of not being understood. Remember being a teenager? One of toughest parts of growing up can be trying to find out who you are and to be accepted by society. We all want to find someone to relate to, to be remembered and not forgotten.
‘In some way, we all meet the same fate. Some worse than others, and some peacefully. Is it all a matter of luck? Of fate? No, none of that.’
Life is a matter of different choices, yet we will all die one day. It’s inevitable, impossible to not encounter. A morbid thought but if we make the most of our time in this world and talk to each other, it will be a life well lived and loved.
I could feel my heart pounding away, trying to burst through my chest with every page I turned in Shelter. The audience are showed a world where the end is near, bombs dropping, people dying and everything covered in radiation. Toney is a master at creating panic and at the same time building the suspense. He shows how even in the darkest of times we can still find the humour and take the time to laugh. How the little things in life are important and when faced with the end of the world, all that really matters is the love we have for one another, our family, our friends and our pets. Again I had tears in my eyes at how terrifying the world can be at times. It’s heartbreaking.
All five plays present the audience a number of questions for them to ask themselves. Things to reflect on and think about. I admire the way Toney has used monologues as his characters express so much emotion through dialogue. It’s poetic and makes the characters on stage relatable. It could so easily be us up there, saying these words, naked for all to see with no need to act or pretend. The afterlife is a strong present theme that asks the audience what they believe. Is there life after death? Is this all there is? Toney connects the audience and allows us all to relate to one another. Our desire to feel connected and not so alone is accomplished. It’s bliss and works wonders for the mind. Overall it’s an interesting work of theatre that gets you thinking and runs you through a whirlwind of emotions leaving you breathless yet yearning for more.
It had me captivated from start to finish. I would pay good money to see this on the stage and to just soak up that raw atmosphere of human existence. Grab yourself a copy here and see for yourself. Let your mind become the stage for five extraordinary plays dealing with time, memory, love and connection through dreams. Sit back, relax and get ready for scene one. The curtain is about to rise.
Next on my list is The Dreaming Key: A Story Of Poetry By Jordan Toney. I am really loving this writer’s work, his style and use of imagery is astounding to read. Discover more about Jordan Toney on the links below. Enjoy!
Links For Jordan Toney
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