The Silence of Snow - the Life of Patrick Hamilton, Laughing Horse @ Espionage, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Mark Farrelly / Free Festival
Mark Farrelly (writer), Linda Marlowe (director)
Mark Farrelly
Running time

‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ might have described Patrick Hamilton in his latter days half-truthfully as it once did Lord Byron.

It wasn’t, of course, always thus, and Farrelly’s fine portrayal of one of the major literary figures of the 1920’s and 30’s is pin-point sharp.

For those whose memories are hazy or have missed the resurrection of Hamilton’s literary reputation over the past couple of decades, Farrelly offers us a reminder of the lightening flash that Hamilton created, both through his work for theatre (still frequently revived) and his corpus of novels set on the seedier side of Soho and its environs.

In ‘Hangover Square’, the trilogy entitled ‘The Plains of Cement’ and his later ‘The Slaves of Solitude’, Hamilton drew on his boulevardier background to create a world of barflies and barmaids, the flotsam and jetsam of a London increasingly dehumanised by the pressing mass of humanity to whom it gave precarious shelter.

In spite, or more likely because of an unhappy childhood, dominated by neurotic parents, young Patrick became a sensitive observer of the crimes and misdemeanours of others, his very sensitivity both making him a writer of distinction and an increasingly unhappy individual whose only reliable source of solace was alcohol.

Predictably, his refuge became a prison he was unable to escape, and a final attempt at ‘cure’ through electro-convulsive therapy ended his creativity, but not his dependence on alcohol.

Farrelly encompasses all this and much more in his hour-long performance, which displays his very considerable abilities to the full, and despite the tragic nature of much of what he has to tell, we keep our sympathy for his character but are never allowed to feel sorry for him.

This is clear and sharp-eyed characterisation and performance of a very high order, notable even among the many other fine offerings available on the Fringe.

Mr. Farrelly is donating the voluntary offerings for this show to the mental health charity, MIND. Two good reasons for giving generously, then.

2-24 August (not Monday 11) 12.00 noon