Words in Silence (In Cantonese) Sha Tin Theatre Company Sha Tin Town Hall August 21 There have been some high quality local youth theatre shows in recent years but this International Children's Arts Festival programme, unfortunately, falls short of being one. Written by Fong Muk-wing and staged by the Sha Tin Theatre Company, this melodrama about the breakdown in communications between people lacks the pace and mood to sustain the audience's interest throughout a soppy 90-minute script. Secondary school student Ah Lum (Leung Kar-kei) aspires to becoming a pop idol. The problem is that she does not sing from her heart and her mimetic singing style is mocked by all except the wheelchair bound Ah Fung (Shum Ho-yuen) who admires Ah Lum from a distance. One day Ah Fung is 'caught' listening to Ah Lum in a park and the teenage girl takes an instant dislike to him because he is disabled and uses impenetrable sign language. The story then shuttles between past and present. Ah Lum used to sing beautifully as a child, until the day her parents broke up, while Ah Fung lost his ability to walk and speak after he was struck down by an illness. The drama reaches its climax when Ah Fung, who Ah Lum eventually falls in love with, suddenly loses his hearing and lapses into a coma. Will her beautiful singing be able to save the day? It all sounds rather tacky and there were moments I wished someone would strangle the character Ah Lum, not because she sings badly, but because she is selfish and spoilt. Does this reflect the attitude of local teenage girls today? It is an irony that it takes someone who is dumb to teach her how to communicate with others. One of the problems with Words in Silence is that there were too many mute pauses. If that was a device intended to highlight the theme of the production, then it was not very effective because the awkward pauses appear more like gaps during which the actors have forgotten their lines. The script, which is original and educational, however needs sharpening and its characters and story-line need to be more developed.