Park Theatre, London -until 1 April 2017
Stewart Permutt’s play is harmless enough but it lacks a sense of purpose that doesn’t drive the story forward – making it an increasingly frustrating watch. This is possibly one of the most frustrating productions to hit the stage in 2017 so far. Stewart Permutt has created a play about two opposing people and focusing how while they are different on the surface – underneath both are equally insecure but somehow neither character’s stories feel remotely finished.
After Gideon (Joe Coen), a young Jewish man from the other side of town is attacked Gina (Michelle Collins) kindly takes him in and looks after him. As the pair get to know each other they begin to open up to each other about their pasts and regrets begin to emerge.
That is pretty much all you need to know about this very light weight play that doesn’t seem to evolve into something of substance, over reliant on long pauses and the use of the word “babes” from Gina all too often. As a result, it is a challenge for Michelle Collins and Joe Coen to make much of their parts – both of which seem oddly underdeveloped within the script. But what Tim Stark’s production does do well is to draw out all of the conflicting emotions that both characters undergo throughout – even if the topics of conversation between the pair seems to switch all too quickly and with no real purpose.
Michelle Collins as Gina is a highlight of the production. The way in which she fusses after Gideon, refusing to take no for an answer while increasingly showing a more vulnerable side to the character is mesmerising to watch – it is just a shame that the script in places feels oddly contrived for her character. But she is certainly given a lot more to do than Gideon, played with quiet charm by Joe Coen, yet somehow his story is never brought out as much – his conflict about getting married and his job seems oddly subdued, with no real desire to change his life evident. But there is a great chemistry between the pair and it would be interesting to see them teaming up in another more substantial play.
A Dark Night in Dalston is bittersweet and tinged with elements of humour, but ultimately it feels too subdued and in need of a lot more work to make a bigger impact. At the end you are left feeling – what was the point?