Voices From Home (Vol.5) is a curated collection of five short audio plays from emerging, South-East-based writers. The collection is presented by the multi-award-winning Broken Silence Theatre and is showcasing at Brighton Fringe 2021.
After over a year of lockdowns and digital theatre, I am wary of another audio play, but this one cuts through the mundane for me. The variety of work presented means there is something for everyone, with varied writing, performance styles and topics within the five plays, going from Love and Seagulls to Grief and Ghosts. This keeps the collection engaging, especially if you find it easy to feel detached from an audio play format.
Voices From Home has some deeply human topics weaved between darker content. ‘Woo Woo’, written by Sarah Milton and performed by Naomi Denny, and ‘Vinegar Chips’, written by Grace Merry and performed by Eleanor Grace, focus more on the narrator’s inner monologue and are presented as the voice of this generation, yet I find them the hardest to connect to. I am looking for more depth and complexity with these plays as at first they feel almost too ordinary. The humanity and lightness of these plays, however, add a brighter layer to the collection that I think is necessary to break up darker topics throughout and makes the collection more pleasurable to listen to in one sitting.
‘The Self Defence Class’, written by Madeline Acalia and performed by Julia Grogan, is my personal favourite of the collection. It follows ‘Mog’s’ journey as they find meaning in violence after being publicly sexually assaulted and what could lie beneath this violence. Grogan’s performance is full of life and carries this audio play well, helping me to feel fully immersed in the story. The play is very fast-paced, an often apt interpretation of how the aftermath of sexual assault can sometimes feel, keeping the story engaging and high-stakes for listeners.
Acalia handled the topic of sexual assault with such a delicate hand, using humour without overshadowing the seriousness, which makes it easy for me empathise with Mog throughout, whilst allowing me to also enjoy the refreshing humour when needed. This play felt very reminiscent of Aimee Gibbs’s experience of sexual assault in the TV series Sex Education, with very powerful imagery and detail that pulled me in. At times the sound effects could be a bit jarring; however, they don’t overpower the narrative and help to keep the pace fast and the story interesting.
The performances of the plays themselves are noteworthy, specifically in ‘The Rough and Mirage’ written by Lucy Dobry and performed by Antonia Salib. The use of accents feels authentic and I can sense the emotion coming from Salib; it didn’t feel forced or fake, making it easier to empathise with the character. I feel this authentic performance in all of the plays at one point or another, which carried the collection well throughout.
Voices From Home doesn’t come without its faults. Some of the sound effects play a bit too loudly, making for a shock, especially for headphone users. I find this an issue mainly in the first play ‘Woo Woo’, as well as in ‘These Things That Burn’, written by Georgie Bailey and Performed by Nieve Finley. I understand the artistic choices behind these sound effects; however, this is something to keep in mind. With this being said, Voices From Home gives an authentic voice to a new generation of writers from the South East and you might just find one of your next favourite emerging writers!
Voices From Home is playing Brighton Fringe 2021 until 27 June 2021. For more information and tickets, see Brighton Fringe online.