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by on 17 May 2023

By Night


by Joe White

Putney Theatre Company at the Studio, Putney Arts Theatre until 20th May

Review by Heather Moulson

The opening scene of Mayfly jumps shockingly out at us, with the shock of a near tragedy as young Harry takes the first steps of carrying the awful load he bears from a splintered family.   Attempted suicide, sexual propositions, grief, loss – he shoulders the lot as the play unravels.  Morgan Beale in this role smoothly carries these burdens, which are all thrust upon Harry by a twist of fate. 

The most captivating scene, in an ailing pub where Harry is one of the bar staff, involves the desperate Mum, Cat, poignantly played by Emily Fellows.  There are powerful performances of the protagonists within the family unit, and each actor portrays them uniquely.

Daughter Loops, played by Jessica Olim, is a fantasist.  Her father Ben, nicely played by Oscar Heron, has a screaming subtext of recovering alcoholism and loss.  It is a family torn apart and we can feel the pace when it comes to the make-or-break point.

A microwaved family dinner that pours itself into a sharp climax shows just how writing can excel.  It forms a good cue for Harry to finally reveal his own demons, while making tentative steps to sewing a family back together.  This is by no means a depressing piece, and the writing is vibrant.

Perhaps Harry flounders a bit too much while we wait once again for him to get to the point.  Moreover there is the question of one hour and forty minutes being a bit too long without an interval for such an intense play.  However, not once do we lose sight of the weight Harry is carrying. 

Written by Joe White, an Olivier Award nominated playwright, and directed thoughtfully by Jodi Rilot, this is a powerful production.  The simple set design by Tony Bennett and Ian Higham works well against the blackness of the auditorium. The atmospheric lighting is designed by Martin Jessop, with an apt sound design by Barney Hart Dyke.  A particular nod though must be given to the cast of four who bring the text alive. 

Heather Moulson, May 2023

Photography by Steve Lippitt

One Comment
  1. celiabard permalink

    Certainly a dysfunctional family but nevertheless an interesting one.

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