Edinburgh Preview: The Silent Treatment at Summerhall (Anatomy Lecture Theatre)

Based on a true story, The silent treatment is a moving, funny and uplifting new solo show combining storytelling, physical theater and song to explore how the body remembers what the mind forgets. From award-winning writer and performer Sarah-Louise Young, creator of An evening without Kate Bush and Julie madly deep, The silent treatment explores the singer’s own story of voice loss and the unexpected journey of self-disclosure that followed.

Voice surgery in the singing industry is shrouded in mystery. Singers who experience it are encouraged to keep quiet for fear of being seen as damaged goods. A professional singer and performer for 22 years, Sarah-Louise Young had sung live on national television, performed in the West End and around the world, but unbeknownst to most people, she had battled sporadic voice loss for the first 14 years.

Having bravely reached the point of exploring surgery, she discovered that the cause of her vocal injury was directly linked to a sexual assault she suffered when she was just seven years old. Although his mind recovered, it turned out that his body did not. This discovery meant she could move on and seek the medical and psychological care she needed.


However, despite the surgery’s resounding success eight years ago, industry professionals strongly advised her to hide the truth: if she opened up about her surgery, she would be considered a liability, someone who cannot be trusted. Finally free from the scars of her attack more than three decades before, her voice felt strong and powerful for the first time. But, instead of celebrating that fact, she was met with shame.

Speaking to other singers, Sarah-Louise learned about the discrimination in the industry, from people who prefer to fake an accident or injury to cover up the fact that they needed to take time off to rest vocally, rather than to risk telling the truth.

The silent treatment begins as the story of the loss of a singer, but deepens into an exploration of how our voices shape us all and how our identity is influenced by the voices and messages we hear around us. We all have times when we feel silenced, belittled and closed off, and here Sarah-Louise Young explores the power and cost of speaking out.

Comments by Sarah-Louise Young If I hadn’t been a singer, I might never have started this journey of self-discovery and seen how an event from three decades ago was still impacting my life. I needed to heal completely. By telling my story, I hope to amplify the voices of others who have experienced similar trauma or felt unable to speak their truth. I hope that by showing and sharing my vulnerability, other people will also feel seen and heard. Ultimately, it’s a story of success, healing, and a singer rediscovering the joy of singing.

Sarah-Louise Young will also perform An evening without Kate Bush throughout the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the Assembly Piccolo tent at 5.55pm. In addition, Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood which she directed will also appear this year at the Fringe in the Drawing Room at 2:30 p.m.


Angela C. Hale