Cervantes Theatre, London – until 28 September 2019
It’s an intriguing premise. A successful middle-aged woman approaches a blind lottery ticket seller and offers him money to spend an hour in a hotel room with her. What does she want, and what is his expectation?
As Lucia and Angel enter a room dominated by a bed, we can sense the explosive tension, but as it develops, it’s far from sexual. Lucia is a woman who is professionally brilliant, but dead inside from years of unhappy marriage. And Angel? He’s an enigma. A facilitator who remains just that across 90 minutes of high drama.
The Eyes of the Night, by the Spanish playwright Paloma Pedrero (translated into English by Catherine Boyle), is an exploration of the senses. Does removing sight, so we are better able to pick up invisible cues, give us an advantage when it comes to understanding ourselves and the world around us? There is an interesting moment where Angel forces Lucia to remove her contact lenses, giving her instant access to his world. Will she find resolution or will the darkness within turn even darker?
The Cervantes Theatre is a fabulous space and Mariachiara Maracci’s bedroom set with its little bathroom and stairway onto an imagined balcony is an exquisite foil to the violence of the exchanges we are about witness.
Lucia is a woman on fire. She’s self-combusting. Attacking Angel from all angles – literally skipping over the bed time and again to keep circling him – she goads with cruel questions about his blindness. It is all diversionary, of course. It stops him asking her motives. And perhaps it’s inevitably male that he decides the antidote to her pain is a good fuck.
My problem with The Eyes of the Night was that I didn’t care enough about Lucia’s pain or Angel’s blindness. Two lost souls brutalising each other in a bedroom are still lost souls. There were moments when, in this UK premiere directed by Simone Coxall, one felt that, by pushing light and shade through the language and presentation, the piece could be revelatory. In its current presentation, despite the best efforts of Lanna Joffrey as Lucia and Samuel Brewer (who is himself visually impaired) as Angel, it becomes unremitting.
The Eyes of the Night is also performed in Spanish with the two casts alternating across the week (Spanish on Wednesdays and Thursdays, English on Fridays and Saturdays). It would be interesting to compare and contrast the two versions to see if one provides more nuance and insight than the other.