The Night Alive by Conor McPherson
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre at 410 Brockley Rd, London SE4 2DH until 9th June
Runs 2h 10m, including 15 minute interval
Review Info: Veronica Stein, 26th May, 2018. @ReviewsGate
Confident, thoughtful, watchable
Tommy is scraping by in Dublin, living downstairs in his Uncle Maurice’s house and putting the sam euro coin into the gas meter every month. His savings reside in a biscuit tin in his refrigerator-less kitchen, and bin bags are his primary storage. Nevertheless, he is ultimately generous and after giving Aimee, a stranger with a beaten and bloodied nose a place to stay, his life starts to go in other directions- for better and for worse. Which will win out is anyone’s guess.
The Night Alive is produced and directed with many thoughtful touches- the set by Dave Jones and Dan Armour is ragged and thorough, accounting for and expanding on the details of text. Armour’s direction is confident and highly watchable, for the play feels as authentic as possible from the huddling around some fish and chips accompanied by an impromptu dance party to Marvin Gaye to the daily interactions between the family-of-sorts who find themselves together mostly by circumstance. The play itself is balanced and often hilarious, though never at the characters’ expense.
The performances are largely impactful, particularly Eoin Lynch as Doc, the Lennie to Tommy’s George. He balances comic relief with tender earnestness in an absolutely authentic effort, along with Bethan Boxall as Aimee who, despite appearing incredibly well-coiffed, plays the small time prostitute with a quiet grittiness that suited the messaging of the show and provided a contrast to David Cox’s ebullience as Tommy. Howie Ripley, as Kenneth, is chilling as the play’s primary courier of chaos, and Dan Armour
provides bitter wisdom as Maurice, Tommy’s stodgy uncle. What primarily detracted from the production is pacing issues which plagued both acts and made it difficult to keep the story as engaging as it deserved to be, alongside dropping the tension at the moments where it was needed most.
The Night Alive at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre features several fantastic performances and a story worth seeing; it’s a lovely play about the aftermath of inviting newcomers into our comfortable lives, for they can be what we least expect but exactly what we need.
Tommy: David Cox
Aimee: Bethan Boxall
Maurice: Dan Armour
Doc: Eoin Lynch
Kenneth: Howie Ripley
Director: Dan Armour
Lighting Designer: Emma Christmas
Sound Designer: Tom Dignum
Set Design: Dave Jones and Dan Armour
Wardrobe: Pauline Armour