Winterlight Productions

Family life, family love?
Quiet Hands
Winterlight Theatre , Chapter , September-14-17
Quiet Hands by Winterlight Theatre Quiet Hands completes a trio of plays taking a close and understanding examination of autism presented by Chris Durnell’s Winterlight Theatre. The first being Matthew Passion by Mike James performed at The Sherman Theatre. This play follows Touch Blue Touch Yellow also by Tim Rhys: again he writes with a real beauty, with care and sensitivity and a clear grasp of his subject. Extremely compelling actor, Joshua Manfield again plays Carl, now a little older, as he did – making his professional debut in the previous production.

Here we see a strengthened actor even more clearly able to give us incites into the world of autism.
As we enter we see him standing alone in a single light, he points to the sky, rolls on the floor. He recovers and approaches a young woman in the audience and gently touches her face with his hands, he steps back and appears to be trying to place that face over his own. He does this again with a man on the other side of the traverse staging.

Carl’s mother has died; he is now alone in the house. His brother Russ has returned for the funeral. He has given little or no thought to his brother for many years. Russ’s girlfriend, Abi see a money grabbing opportunity here. Hannah Lloyd gives a compelling performance that oozes insensitivity and nastiness, all with an innocent smile. She will persuade Russ to get Carl to sell the house even though Carl will have nowhere to live. Mate Crime is in the air. Director, Chris Durnell and his excellent cast subtlety introduce a sharp note of tension and theatricality into the early moments of the play. This turns to a sharper realism as matters become more desperate.

Russ still feels his family ties and is not too keen on the plan. Abi gets her brother Mo to move in to put pressure on Carl to move out. Mo is a nasty piece of work and starts stabbing at Carl. Carl is upset and confused, he starts to shake and wave his hands rapidly. Russ holds him and whispers “quiet hands”. This reflects the therapy Carl has previously been given for this ‘problem’. It does little to calm him.

James Ashton gives us a well-drawn picture of the rough and ready Russ. Is there a good heart in there? He slips seamlessly into the role of the more calculating Mo. Who eventually succeeds making Carl agree to sell up. Game over, mate crime has worked!

Well has it? The answer lies in the final moments of this very fine and delicate production that I urge you to see.

Photo by Noel Le Conte
Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan


After their last, sold-out Chapter visit with Touch Blue Touch Yellow Winterlight returns with the same writer-director team for their new play. Quiet Hands, following a young autistic man as he tries to rebuild his friendship with his lost brother and encounters the dangerous world of ‘Mate Crime’. Reviews from Touch Blue Touch Yellow:

Tim Rhys’ new play Quiet Hands is a hard-hitting exploration of the alarming rise of ‘mate crime’ – an insidious, predatory form of hate crime against vulnerable and disabled people. Young adults on the autistic spectrum are especially vulnerable, as they are often socially isolated, lacking the social networks that protect most of us. Those living alone can be befriended, fooled into trusting their new “friends” and then systematically robbed, defrauded and bullied. This abuse has sometimes led to horrific, even lethal violence. It is a crime that often goes unnoticed until it ends in catastrophe, as the victim is often unwilling or unable to escape or to tell anyone what is happening to them.

The National Autistic Society has reported that this predatory abuse now happens on “a devastating scale”.

‘Quiet Hands’ directed by Chris Durnall for Winterlight Theatre, will raise awareness of this, while also exploring the importance of sibling relationships as it follows the uplifting story of an autistic man trying to rekindle his friendship with his estranged brother.

“Melancholic beauty… Raw and unflinching, will make you think twice about what it means to be ‘normal’… blackly comic dialogue” (Theatre in Wales)

“Instant, hard-hitting impact. Had my stomach in knots” (New Welsh Review)

“A stunning piece of theatre” (Sara Beer, Arts Disability Wales)

“One of the most powerful theatrical experiences I can remember, after decades of play-going. It is a brilliant play” (John Freeman)

Quiet Hands
Chapter Theatre, Market Rd, Cardiff
Tuesday 12th September - Saturday 16th September @ 7.30pm
Saturday 16th Matinee at 2.30pm
Tickets £10/8 02920304400
Question and Answer Session follows Tuesday performance
Carnegie House, Bridgend
Tuesday 19th September @ 7.30
Tickets £8/6 01656815757

“I am autism. I know where you live. I will bankrupt you. I will take away your hope. I don’t sleep, so I make sure you don’t either... I will fight to take away your hope. I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams”


Carl understands stars, galaxies and other planets but the mysteries of the non-autistic world all around him are far more bewildering and dangerous. This new play explores some of the misleading myths about autism. It follows one young man’s journey, searching for friendship and meaning on what could turn out to be his last night on Earth.


“Sometimes being autistic in this world means walking through a crowd of silently miserable people and holding your happiness like a secret or a baby, letting it warm you as your mind runs on the familiar tracks of an obsession and lights your way through the day.”


Winterlight present

Touch Blue Touch Yellow

By Tim Rhys

Directed by Chris Durnall

Poetry by Tracey Rhys

Designed by Georgina Miles


Tuesday 1st – Saturday 5th December at 8.00 Matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30


Venue: Chapter Arts Centre Market Road Cardiff

Box Office 02920304400

£12/10 concessions

Winterlight is the sister company of Company of Sirens


Contact Chris Durnall on 07834600941

Supported by the Arts Council of Wales