Read my review of Deafinitely Theatre’s play Gold Dust for Disability Arts Online here. Or read on below.
Family. It’s a big theme in deaf life.
That sounds like a terrible introduction to a review doesn’t it? I mean, family’s a big theme for everyone. But there’s something unique about deafness in the impact it has on communication.
Deaf people I grew up around often told me how they felt incredibly different from their hearing parents. Deafness meant they communicated differently, and as many of them learned sign language and became part of the deaf community, these differences became more pronounced.
In Gold Dust, a man goes into an attic room holding an urn containing his father. Suddenly his father pops up, and they go on a journey through his father’s schooling, the war, meeting his wife and becoming a jeweller.
However, this is a reversal of the usual story. It’s Sam, the hearing son, who seems disconnected, who does not understand or seem to relate to his father George, who is deaf and signs. Sam wonders if his father had wished he was deaf. There is frustration and anger here, but there is also warmth as they build a bridge between the differences that have divided them.
This is a journey through time, through stages of life and stories that make sense of identity. But towards the end, as this journey reaches it’s conclusion, a new character arrives on stage and the emotional temperature of the play suddenly changes, as we are taken suddenly into a present that feels harsher and more raw than the relative comfort of the past.
The play is performed in sign language and spoken English. Cleverly, some parts of the father’s dialogue – often very funny sections – are not translated, forcing hearing members of the audience to focus on the expression in the hands before them, and connect with sign language.
Directed by Paula Garfield and written by Andrew Muir, Gold Dust is inspired by true stories of deaf people in Birmingham, and there was a sense, while watching it, of seeing some of the stories, some of the history of the deaf world that I and many others have grown up with, finally being told on stage. The three actors, Ilan Dwek, Jim Fish and David Sands, are excellent.
The set, in Soho Theatre’s smaller upstairs space, is intimate, and so is the play, featuring two separate one-on-one scenes.
There is something very compact about Gold Dust. It’s about parenting, about deaf people and hearing people and how they relate to one another (or don’t) and about how behaviour is passed on, without giving easy answers. It also has an incredibly beautiful ending.
Gold Dust is a real return to form for Deafinitely Theatre, and I recommend you go and see it.
Gold Dust has been produced by Deafinitely Theatre, in conjunction with Black Country Touring and the Deaf Cultural Centre. Go to the Soho Theatre website for times and dates.
To find out more about Gold Dust, go to the Deafinitely Theatre website.
By Charlie Swinbourne, Editor
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Rayovac: Never run out of hearing aid batteries again by subscribing!
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out how to add Live Captions to Facebook Live!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Cast Theatre, Doncaster: The UK's the UK’s first fully BSL integrated pantomime
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people