The Theatreguide.London Review
A Night In November
Trafalgar Studios. Autumn 2007
In Marie Jones' monologue play a Belfast Protestant joins his father-in-law at a football game between the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland teams, and discovers, evidently for the first time, that the old man is an anti-Catholic bigot and that he himself has been raised in a culture of casual bigotry.
This leads rapidly to the realisation that his Protestant neighbours are all snobs, his wife is an airhead obsessed with cleanliness, and his home and life are equally sterile.
Meanwhile, when he pauses to look at the few Catholics he knows, he suddenly sees that they are all warm, vital, earthy, generous and messily human.
His voyage of discovery culminates in impulsively joining Republic fans on a trip to New York to watch their team play in the 1994 World Cup final - and there, of course, he finds even more drunken warmth and good fellowship to envy and eventually identify with.
Put that simply, the play sounds almost idiotically simple-minded, and indeed subtle or complex psychology, sociology and politics are not within the playwright's remit here.
The evening is carried, if it is, by the wit of the presentation, the general celebration of good fellowship and whatever charm and energy the solo performer brings to it.
Patrick Kielty starts far too slowly, unable to make the guy's sudden road-to-Damascus revelation and its immediate 'Catholics good, Protestants bad' absolutes ring true.
He's also not particularly good at voices, so the fact that he has to play Everyone Else as well as the hero handicaps him and limits the comic or serious effect of those moments.
Kielty is much stronger in the second half of the short (barely two hours, including long interval) evening, capturing the growing excitement of the New York trip and the character's joy at finding all the warm humanity that had been missing in his life.
Don't go to this show expecting any depth of thought or characterisation at all. and its simplistic fairy tale may well draw you in. But you really do have to park your brains at the door.
Receive alerts every time we post a new review.