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Adapted from Kavita Puri’s acclaimed book Partition Voices: Untold British Stories, SILENCE opens the door on the memories of British Asians who came to the UK after the brutal partition of India.

The partition, in which the country was torn apart on religious lines turning neighbours and friends against each other and unleashing a shocking wave of violence and migration, remains etched in the memories of many of these people decades later.

They had built new homes, lives and families in the UK and many had not shared their memories of the past before.

Adapted by a team of four writers, Sonali Bhattacharyya, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Ishy Din and Alexandra Wood, SILENCE brings together the generations as the new generation ask their parents and grandparents to share their history or as they discover secrets locked in cupboards.

A cast of six Aaron Gill, Alexandra D’Sa, Asif Khan, Bhasker Patel, Mamta Kaash and Tia Dutt take on the roles of the children, the parents and the grandparents. Despite playing so many different roles, the team ensure each character has its own strong identity, based not just on their stories but also on the way the narratives are told.

And those stories are truly shocking - from children lying wounded under a mound of bodies through to friends and lovers ripped apart on religious lines. The show aims to offer equality to the horror - Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are portrayed as both perpetrators and victims of violence as the country convulsed.

And the revulsion experienced by the children who are hearing these memories for the first time is shared by the audience as horror piles on top of horror.

Originally produced by Tara Theatre artistic director Abdul Shayek who died last year, the production has been taken on by Birmingham Rep associate director Iqbal Khan. Together with designer Rachana Jadhav who created the projection with Simeon Miller, Khan has ensured the show has a depth to its staging so it is more than simply stories.

Much of the staging is open doorways and empty chairs - all memories of what has been left behind. And many of the speakers’ faces are projected onto the backdrop as they talk, taking us deeper into their experience. Very little of the horror is shown - an arm wound or projected flames – but the vivid descriptions based on true memories ensure we understand their enormity.

It should also be said that the team have ensured some moments of light in all the darkness. Some stories are presented with humour and a touch of the whimsical and we are also reminded that many people reached out to protect both neighbours and strangers, their humanity more important than politics and division.

With many of these life memories becoming history themselves as the generation who experienced partition die, SILENCE feels like an important milestone in sharing that knowledge and those experiences, not just with people’s immediate families but with theatre-goers.

Four stars

Reviewed by Diane Parkes at The Rep, Birmingham, where Silence continues to show until Saturday 27 April.