Written by Nina Segal
Directed by Ben Kidd
Designed by Georgia Lowe
Lighting and Projection Designer Joshua Pharo
Sound Designer George Dennis
Production Manager Jane Arnold-Forster
Design Assistant Sean Gibbons
Photo Credit Bill Knight
Hannah Fisher Reviews “In the Night Time” by Nina Segal
– they put a light bulb in a baby. One of the promo images of the show is an absolutely stunning shot of a mother holding onto a doll that’s head is lit by a bulb inside. It’s simple, it’s clever and it’s beautiful. It’s an ingenious piece of design that does exactly what it needs to in an accomplished and wonderfully subtle way and really this is what In The Night Time has to offer: simplistic beauty executed so well with a rig of drop down pars, a smattering of birdies and some well chosen LEDs.
What Joshua Pharo’s design does so well is utilize its simplicity and well judged focus to effectively and intelligently punctuate moments of the text. Some expertly programmed chases are used almost unnoticeably in order to add texture to various scenes and moments. Had I not been looking for them I probably wouldn’t noticed, but the delicate flickering those warm lanterns gave to the scene really added a sense of shading and depth that might have otherwise felt slightly lacking. These lights were also used to section the stage to highlight particular moments and figures. In addition to this, some well-timed fades between the different banks, as well as some nicely positioned profiles really helped to shift the perspective or tone of varying moments. A particularly nice transition stood out in the latter half of the show when the parents are separated and individually highlight by side lights, but as they come together the focus fades into the centre and they are once more reunited as a pair. The directional design of the rig is really what shines as one of the most unique and well considered pieces of this production. Its intimate and selective use brings out the best of Pharo’s design choices and the subtleties of the decisions of the cast and Georgia Lowe’s set.
Speaking of set, Lowe’s design mirrors and compliments Pharo’s stripped back style well. By placing the audience either side of the stage we immediately get a moment of recognition and slight discomfort that audiences are not generally used to in a traditional theatrical environment. My favourite feature about this, something so simple, was the use of a single profile focussed on each side of the audience that allowed a small amount of light to be cast on each individual’s face, adding to the sense of the personal and the distant. As a theatre nerd, something that always excites me is DIY theatre: set, lights, props and so on that build themselves or are built over time. So when I walked into The Gate Theatre and found a bunch of stuff piled in a corner, wrapped in a load of cling film with some feet sticking out, I thought I was probably in the right place, and I was. The set began sparsely with the actors ripping out necessary items from the cling film conglomerate in the corner, progressing as the show went on and eventually causing its destruction as the piece devolved. My only criticism here (and it’s very minor) would be that the pacing was slightly off on this for my liking. We had a good few reveals at the end but overall things were done pretty quickly, things were pulled out and things were destroyed. As an audience member I would have liked to have been able to revel in each moment as it was created rather than suddenly being in a recognizable space. The only other slight niggle I have, and again it’s very slight, would be the projection. Projection, particularly in small venues, is very hard to do well. Without giving too much away, there are two stages to the projection used within In The Night Time and personally I would have gone straight to the second, purely due to the fact that I couldn’t stop looking at a fire exit sign unfortunately placed in the centre of the projection the entire time. In small venues like The Gate you have to be aware of your surroundings because anything that light hits will become immediately noticeable, and unfortunately for me I was all too painfully aware. The projection itself is a clever idea that links nicely to the sense of voyeurism we have into these people’s lives but also the distance we have from observing them – it links thematically in the way that it is used and leaves a lovely image (fire exit aside) resonating with the audience. My final note on set is a brief shout out to the ‘delivery’ of the baby, in an Amazon box, it made me mini-fist pump.
Last but not least is George Dennis’s sound design – I can’t find that much to say because it was brilliant! A beautiful and unobtrusive underscore with moments of dissonance and clarity flowed along throughout the entire piece. The sound was masterfully created, balanced and placed in the space and added everything that it was intended to do. A soundscape is often overlooked by people as it becomes very natural to listen to and experience; this in no way means it is bad but that it does its job so perfectly that you don’t even realise it is doing so. Huge props to Dennis’s work; I look forward to hearing more from him.
A piece of theatre so lovingly created could fall apart at any time. A fantastic show, beautifully written and designed on all parts.
Gate Theatre says:
“Have you ever wondered whether having a child is a responsible or a selfish act?
Amidst the constant bombardment of headlines and news reports about tragedies, destruction and global political unrest, can we really justify bringing a child into the world?
Don’t miss the world premiere of Nina Segal’s In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises). A play that explores one couple’s anxiety over having their first baby with humour, empathy and understanding.
Over the course of one night, a man and woman try to comfort their screaming infant. But, as the hours grow longer, and they become intoxicated from lack of sleep, the world becomes elastic around them and the horrors that scar our planet crash into the baby’s room.”
Book now to see this powerful and pertinent new play directed by Genesis Future Director Award winner, Ben Kidd.