Breaking the Silence
0riginally produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984, Stephen Poliakoff’s Breaking the Silence follows the adventures of the Pesiakoffs — an aristocratic Jewish family caught up in the tumult of post-Revolution Russia during the early 1920s. This is an especially personal look at the most massive upheaval in modern history; the family in question is based on Poliakoff's own, the events inspired by what happened to them after the Bolshevik Revolution. Nikolai believes he is on the verge of a great scientific breakthrough — the invention of the world's first talking motion picture. Spared an almost certain execution by a gruff but sympathetic commissar, Nikolai is given the dubious title of Telephone Surveyor of the Northern Railway, and forced to live with his wife, Eugenia, teenage son, Sasha and their chambermaid, Polya, in a deteriorating Imperial railway carriage.
As their train trudges across Russia, they are somewhat sheltered from the world around them, their only exposure to the havoc outside coming through the windows of their railway carriage. While Nikolai clings desperately to any remnant of his former lifestyle and refuses to let the Revolution get in the way of his work, the other characters begin to adapt to their new life, going through changes that — like those occurring in the world around them — will have great repercussions. The suspense increases with the sounding of Lenin's funeral March in January of 1924, foreshadowing the arrival of Stalin's iron fist and the even greater chaos to come. What will happen to the family if Nikolai's secret work is discovered? If they lose the protection of his job, will they have to flee the country of their birth? And if they remain in Russia, what use will the proletariat have for an aristocratic family that wishes there never was a revolution?
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