A new, original play by Dias Johnston and Thomas Kent, The Silo sears with intimate vulnerability and piercing grit. My partner and I attended the opening night of the show, eagerly awaiting what Queen City had in store for us. Claiming the center of the stage was a simple homestyle rug, one you might remember from your grandmother’s kitchen. Various objects occupied the periphery of the space, nestled purposefully in every corner.
Once the show started, actors Michael Blackwood and Devlin Ford entered the space with genuine wonder. Lighting designer Johnny Willaims bathed the two players in a soft blue light. The blueness of the light mirrored the atmosphere of being invited into someone else’s mind, heart, even world. Michael and Devlin shared the stage in an undefined blocking pattern, which added to the theatrical uncertainty both between the two characters as well as the actors and the audience. The story of The Silo, formed within a series of short vignettes, each unfolded from within the distinctness of two different playwrights, in this case: Kent and Johnston. Each vignette conveyed a clear, unyielding storyline, exploring the reaches of what it means to love another person. The Silo truly captured a vision of two people discovering what it means not just to love each other, but what it means to listen, understand, misunderstand and, in a way, forgive someone you love.
Towards the middle of the play, Devlin and Michael perform a vignette in which Devlin’s character receives monologue coaching from Michael. Devlin effectively conveys her character’s frustration as her male partner attempts, and repeatedly fails, to grasp what she needs in the moment. The sincerity with which Michael portrays trying to aid with the monologue accents the building frustration Devlin’s character experiences. Devlin, with heartbreaking resignation, turns to her partner and declares, “We aren’t speaking the same language.” For my money, this line most directly conveys the play’s main thesis. What Devlin’s performance helped me understand as a spectator was just how many titanic ideas The Silo works within. In one moment, our two players captured a moment of both distance and closeness…dismissal and acceptance.
In a moment of welcomed and engaging abstraction, Michael and Devlin take on the roles of The Moon, and The Earth. Devlin, with a flowing, purposeful intensity, tiptoed around Michael as he turned on his own imaginary axis, mimicking the constant, expected quality our own physical worlds show us every day. I found the visual of one player as The Moon and one as The Earth to be incredibly moving and insightful. Once again, the players embodied the ideas of physical and emotional distance. Devlin slowly orbited Michael as the two engaged in conversation. She asked him specific questions as he turned, and while the dialogue was specific and meaningful, the two never really lined up enough to truly see each other. The pull and tug of each player never being able to set eyes on each other echoes back to the emotional friction experienced by each character from the previous vignettes. In a particularly moving choice, Devlin, as The Moon, could see Michael but Michael could not see her. From where I was sitting, the visual of Devlin watching Michael as they orbited each other was both beautiful and heartbreaking. From behind Devlin’s eyes, I could see innumerable memories her character had with the man before her. In a truly epic move, the orbit between the two lovers became unstable and each began to float away from one another. As the distance between the two increased, the audience could feel an inevitability impending upon our two lovers. Our collective audience question was “Will they make it?”
Without being too cliché, The Silo pulls at the heartstrings, but in the best, most personal way. Queen City Theater offered us an introspective, illuminating picture of two people earnestly grasping at what it means to truly know each other. Devlin Ford and Michael Blackwood shine with unquestionable verve and heart. The Silo does not guarantee we can know someone in their fullness within a lifetime, but it does remind us we can sure as hell try.