Silently Hoping is the story of a girl grappling with two halves of her heritage. Torn between an absent Bruneian father and a single white mother, Kalila attempts to navigate building an adult life without any clear sense of where she has come from. The play charts her relationship with fellow Londoner, Charlotte, and their decision to have a child together.
Photo Credit: Jack Parker
Given there was a lesbian relationship at the heart of this story, it would have been nice to see it fleshed out a little more. Especially since the only scenes we really get between the two, beyond their initial meeting, involved them arguing; the relationship ended semi-tragically (a rather overused trope in this otherwise original plot). However, this was made up for by the fantastic portrayal of familial bonds between Charlotte and her sister, and Kalila and her parents. The tension of an older sister leaving her younger behind in Camberwell to go to uni, despite only being a side plot, was realistic and touching.
Kalila played the stereotype of an activism it-girl, flitting between veganism, faith, sobriety and sustainability. However, this play gave flesh and complicated emotions to an often critiqued image of the journalist activist. Particularly powerful moments included Kalila arguing with her mother and telling her she only wore the hijab to give her a sense of identity without any real faith, or even that she might not know why she wore it. The conflict of coming out to her Bruneian father also showed why Kalila was so pulled between cultures, in a deeper and more meaningful way, than a usual opinion piece narrative.
Kalila's constant search for an abstract sense of "home" seemed more like a striving for inclusion within two societies that to some extent both rejected her. However, despite occasional breakthroughs of self-consciousness, Kalila ultimately doesn't really seem to come to much of a deeper understanding of herself. Despite recognising how selfish some of her actions have been and that she needs to stop focusing so much on her past we never really get to see this play out, and it happened too suddenly to show the gradual change that realistically comes with growing up.
Silently Hoping explores themes that I would love to see highlighted in more theatre, in a complex and lifelike way. The fantastic cast and humour kept the audience entertained and dragged us through the more chaotic moments in the play.
Edited by Alexia McDonald, Head Digital Editor