‘This might have been a good thing’: NIGHTFALL – Bridge Theatre ★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

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.

Jonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
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Jonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.