Bridge Theatre, London – until 26 May 2018
There was a 15-minute delay to the commencement of Nightfall on the occasion of this review, with an actor delayed on public transport. Sadly that delay was all too short, as what followed was a play that promised so much but delivered little more than poorly performed pretensions. Rarely has an on-stage tree stump been in competition for the evening’s most wooden performance.
Barney Norris’ play takes place on a Wiltshire farm that has been mortgaged up to the hilt. Claire Skinner is Jenny the farmer’s widow while Ophelia Lovibond and Sion Daniel Young play her children Lou and Ryan, with Ukweli Roach completing the quartet as family friend Pete.
Skinner, in particular, is capable of greatness but here, weighed down by Norris’ turgid text, she’s left to utter unconvincing platitudes. To be fair, there is fine work from Lovibond who manages to convince us of her angst, but in what is little more than a potpourri of issues that touch upon race, class and aspirational social mobility Norris achieves very little. Second act denouements that are intended to shock, only prove that the family on stage are as dysfunctional as the drama from which they have been created.
Rae Smith’s imaginative set is impressive, but Christopher Shutt’s sound design – and this in one of London’s newest auditoria too – is poor, leaving chunks of the text inaudible. On reflection, this might have been a good thing.