Tag Archives: Mark Farrelly

The Silence of Snow

The Silence of Snow

Jack Studio Theatre

The Silence of Snow

The Silence of Snow

Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 14th March 2019



“the play does not move its audience as much as it should, though it certainly entertains”


On entering the Jack Studio Theatre, the stage is bare but for a spotlit figure in a white hospital gown that the lighting tinges blue. It’s late afternoon, we soon learn, in Muswell Hill and there is a gas fire. Patrick Hamilton is waiting for his last round of electroconvulsive therapy, bottle in hand, as he invites us into his story.

You may know Hamilton for his success as a writer in the early 1900s. The hit plays ‘Rope’ and ‘Gaslight’ were both his, and he penned several successful novels: ‘Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky’, ‘Hangover Square’ and ‘The Slaves of Solitude’, snippets of which we see punctuating Hamilton’s life story. What you may not know is that Hamilton was an alcoholic, and his drinking had a massive impact on his relationships with family and lovers.

Written and performed by Mark Farrelly, a dark life story is told with wit and a love of language. Farrelly frequently addresses the audience directly, knowing nods to a contemporary listener. There is a playful energy to the piece, despite the constant hanging presence of drink which features in both his life and his plays. Farrelly throws himself into the many characters that grace the stage, and is consistently engaging and energised in this one man show.

The portrayals of some of the characters are a bit heavy handed at points, overly emphatic in a way that undermines their truthfulness, and means the play does not move its audience as much as it should, though it certainly entertains. The female characters are given little distinction and are not drawn with sufficient vividness to make them real. From the glimpses we get of them they seem like potentially fascinating characters, whose contributions to this story go untapped. Whilst the drunk scene of verbal abuse is a particularly strong moment in the play in terms of emotional impact, it could be even stronger if we had a clearer picture of those on the other side. The scene also goes on just a little bit longer than it needs to, something that the play as a whole suffers from. The language is incredibly rich and clever throughout. Whilst this seems appropriate for Hamilton’s own taste, and the depiction of a writer’s life, moments of simplicity in both language and portrayal would help root this play in its emotional story.

Full of potential, wit and life, The Silence of Snow needs to strip itself back and find the truth of the narrative and the people involved, so that it really makes the impact the narrative deserves.

The play is dedicated to Tim Welling, who was the first person to read the play but took his life before he could see it performed. As a tribute to this Farrelly runs a collection for MIND after every show, and has so far raised a stunning £7,500.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown


The Silence of Snow

Jack Studio Theatre until 16th March


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The White Rose | ★★★★ | July 2018
Hobson’s Choice | ★★★★ | September 2018
Dracula | ★★★½ | October 2018
Radiant Vermin | ★★★★ | November 2018
Sweet Like Chocolate Boy | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Cinderella | ★★★ | December 2018
Gentleman Jack | ★★★★ | January 2019
Taro | ★★★½ | January 2019
As A Man Grows Younger | ★★★ | February 2019
Footfalls And Play | ★★★★★ | February 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com


Howerd’s End



by Mark Farrelly

March 6, 2017 marks the centenary of the birth of a comedy legend: Frankie Howerd, who was and still is “one of Britain’s best-loved comedians”.

A radical, whose courage and innovation as a performer have too often been obscured by cosy nostalgia, he was the first stand-up to dispense with conventional punchlines and slick patter, instead crafting stumbling, surreal streams of insecurity, based on his sense of inadequacy, disappointment and sheer unsuitability to the very job of being a comedian. In his refusal to ‘do’ comedy like everyone else had done, he paved the way for other non-conformists like The Goons, Monty Python and Eddie Izzard.

Set in the living room of Wavering Down, the Somerset home of Howerd and Dennis Heymer, Howerd’s End, is a punchy, passionate, revealing two-handed drama. It explores through a series of flashbacks the development of Howerd’s style of comedy – from his first appearance on the BBC radio programme Variety Bandbox in 1947 to his final performances in the 1990s when he had a reinvention as a cult godfather of stand up. 

The play also shines an unflinching spotlight on the clandestine union which made Frankie’s big dipper of a career possible: his extraordinary 35-year relationship with his lover, Heymer, a wine waiter Frankie met in 1958 at the Dorchester Hotel while dining with Sir John Mills. Howerd was 40 and Heymer was 28. He would go on to become Howerd’s manager and anchor, but his existence was strictly guarded from the public, not least because for many years the relationship was illegal and the couple feared blackmail if anyone beyond their immediate circle found out.

Howerd’s End also shows the other cost of fame – Howerd’s neurosis, his unfaithfulness and use of LSD that pushed his career and relationship to the brink of destruction. It also highlights Heymer’s struggle: seemingly content with coming second, yet yearning to hear how much he was appreciated, and wondering if the love into which he had deeply fallen was, in truth, unrequited.

More than simply a tribute show about a comedian who outlasted them all, Howerd’s End is also a piercingly honest love story about a relationship that tried to defy every odd – including death. Above all, the play confronts every human’s toughest challenge: letting go.


Howerd’s End

Greenwich Theatre from 12th September


Tickets available from 7th March




Details of a short UK tour will be announced shortly

Full casting and creative team to be announced