The Hush

There is no doubt that the National Theatre is bringing fresh ideas to its quite traditional line up, and The Hush certainly proves that. But does different equal interesting? Not quite.

As soon as you walk into the venue, you are asked to remove your shoes. I ask if it is compulsory and the usher says I don’t have to but looks at me like I’m the freak. And as the show starts, the freakiness continues.

In the programme it states the show is an attempt to welcome sound in to the theatre, but the sound of a random fire alarm is really going to put you on edge more than anything. It puts you out of place throughout the entire show, waiting for the next big noise to come along. After a while you kind of realise that is the whole point of the show. Sound is never really welcomed in a theatre setting, so for the next 50 minutes, you might as well enjoy it.

The most interesting thing about The Hush is the lack of promotion for the play’s actual plot. It almost could have been an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror it was so chilling. We follow two characters as they try to deal with emotional times in their lives. Tobias Menzies is the more brutal out of the characters; his sound harsh and painful to listen to, but this reflects the breakdown of this character’s life. Susannah Wise balances him out, her character’s sounds being nostalgic and warm.

But as much as you want to be won over by the plot and acting, it is truly the sound that really gets you in the end. Musician Matthew Hebert has created a one of a kind theatre experience, just slightly crossing the line into installation territory. That is where the show gets you the most, because you are torn between enjoy the sounds created above the characters but also you want to see how the characters react to the sounds.

And that is where the doubt sets in for The Hush. While we are told to focus on the sound, you really can’t help but feel that you are being robbed of an actual plot. As said before, it had a Black Mirror type set up to it, but it was never really dwelled on.

Will Matthew Hebert’s self penned “instrumental theatre” be the next big thing? I doubt it, but it is going to get the tongues wagging at least.

The Hush is playing at The Shed until 2 August. For more information and tickets, see the National Theatre websitePhoto by Simon Kane.