The Busy World Is Hushed at Finborough Theatre
In its European debut, The Busy World Is Hushed brings the intensity of a deep, inconsolable sadness to an intimate stage no larger than a bedroom. A story of love lost, unbearable grief, faith and religion, this play is a riveting take on the raw relationship between a mother and son who are desperately seeking neutral ground on which to stand.
With topics such as faith and the burgeoning affection between two men, one would expect this story to contemplate forbidden love and reconciling with religion. In a refreshing take by American playwright Keith Bunin, The Busy World Is Hushed effortlessly integrates complex emotional conflicts into a real, modern age without focusing on sexuality or trivial details. In fact, homosexuality is mentioned only two or three times throughout the duration of the two-hour play, an uplifting volte-face from typical works that feature LGBT characters.
Set against a backdrop of glowing stained church windows, the pie begins with Hanna (Kazia Pelka), an Episcopalian minister, widowed mother, and faithful Bible scholar as she begins seeking out the words of Jesus from a recently discovered gospel. Adamant on her beliefs, she finds herself at odds with her 26-year-old son Thomas (Michael James), a free spirit who has just returned from one of his many trips in the wilderness.
Brandt, a polished intellectual who joins the pair after Hannah hires him as a ghost-writer, is immediately immersed in the family’s drama. He, however, is fighting demons of his own as his father’s health deteriorates slowly throughout the following months.
With a small cast of only three characters, the burden of the entire play, including subtle set changes, is on the shoulders of each actor, and they execute it remarkably well. Kazia’s strong voice gives the audience the theatrical experience they crave, whilst the intensity beaming off of James and the warm affection that develops between Thomas and Brandt captivates the room.
Drama was in the air at the Finborough Theatre Thursday evening, and not just on stage. One notable incident, a fainting spell that compelled a member of the audience, put the actors to test. Theatre aficionados will understand that live acting is hard enough, but having to perform on such a small, intimate stage makes it exceptionally difficult. The fact that the actors recovered beautifully and flawlessly persisted after the short disruption had undeniably earned them the respect of everyone in the room.
The actors are excellent, the venue provides for a fully-immersive experience, and the story is exquisite and well-executed. A modern play set in a timeless world where one would never expect the likes of Facebook or Twitter to exist makes this off-West End production an absolute must-see.
Photo: Scott Rylander
The Busy World Is Hushed is at Finborough Theatre from 6th October until 25th November 2017. For further information or to book tickets visit the Finborough Theatre website here.
Watch the trailer for The Busy World is Hushed here: