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The Theatreguide.London Review

In The Night Time (Before The Sun Rises)
Gate Theatre   February 2016

Nina Segal's first produced script is a poem disguised as a play.

It is sometimes strong and evocative, with frequently striking imagery. But it is more a matter of scattered moments than a whole, and there is very little of the dramatic or theatrical in it. 

A young couple with a perpetually crying infant try to make it through another sleepless night. As frustration evolves into hysteria their troubled thoughts expand from the immediate to the global and their emotions range from annoyance through anger to guilt and grief. 

Largely thinking out loud, they take us from a narrative of how they met and chose to have a child to the wonder of first holding her and their attempts to calm and quiet her. 

But exhaustion and mixed emotions expose cracks in their bond. They try to soothe her by telling stories, but their fairy tales become thin allegories of their resentment of her and each other. 

Their fear that they are failing as parents leads to guilt for the larger failures – social, moral, ecological – that their generation has imposed on its children. Only when dawn approaches and the infant is momentarily quiet do they begin to feel some possibility of carrying on. 

Working with a text entirely devoid of any stage directions, director Ben Kidd and designer Georgia Lowe are very inventive if not fully successful in their translation from page to stage. 

The most effective device represents the baby's incessant crying with a life-size doll with a light in its head that flashes on and off, sometimes accompanied by the wail of an ambulance siren. 

An empty stage has a selection of props and furniture added as the couple speak of their coming together and forming a household, only to have everything, along with cartons full of toys and books, strewn about as chaos takes over their lives. 

Actors Adelle Leonce and Alex Waldmann give passionate performances, led by their director to find and express all the emotions behind the words, but the script's power is almost entirely in the words, and very little would be lost if the two actors stood at lecterns and read, or if the play were done on radio. 

Everyone involved in this production is clearly talented, and we can look forward to their future work. But this particular play just provides too little to be a satisfactory showcase of their abilities.

Gerald Berkowitz


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Review - In The Night Time - Gate Theatre 2016

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