REVIEW: A DARK NIGHT IN DALSTON (Park Theatre) ★★★★
A Dark Night In Dalston is a dark comedy, full of humour and surprises. Gina is a funny, big hearted and gossipy woman who is about to have her world turned upside down by the arrival of an unexpected stranger called Gideon, and Gideon is unprepared for the dark secret being kept by the delectable Gina.
When Gina hears a noisy disturbance outside her front door, she is surprised to find a young, good looking stranger, Gideon, sitting on the ground, wearing a jewish Kippah (skull cap), trying to recover his composure after an attack by a group of local youths. She charitably invites him in, to offer him tea and succour and to clean up his superficial head wound. It soon however becomes pretty obvious that Gina’s interest in Gideon is beginning to go way beyond just tea and sympathy.
Gina lives with her husband, who is bedridden after a major stroke, and is unable to do anything for himself, or for her. Her’s is a lonely, physically loveless marriage, which is a difficult life for such a young, vibrant, woman. When an opportunity for some loving almost literally falls into her lap, she doesn’t want to turn it down. But she has a dark, guilty, secret.
The humour in the play is often derived from the strict Jewish customs followed by Gideon. Who would have thought that Walker’s Crisps and Kingsmill bread are both, apparently, produced in a kosher manner? And who would have guessed that the well known brain befuddler, Scotch Whiskey, is also kosher? As Gina and Gideon relax together, eat their crisp sandwiches and drink their Scotch, they begin to lose their inhibitions.
Gina is played by the wonderful, Hackney born, Michelle Collins (of Eastenders and Coronation Street fame). She has had a long acting career and has featured in dozens of other popular television programs, films and stage roles. She is brilliant, totally believable and has a great, lovable stage presence.
Gideon was played by the excellent Joe Coen, fresh from his West End success in the leading role in the hit comedy play, Bad Jews. Joe is excellent playing the repressed young Jewish man, who insists on keeping up his Jewish standards.
A Dark Night in Dalston was written by award-winning writer Stewart Permutt and is a wry, touching play with a surprising climax. The script is both sharp, witty and, at times, laugh out loud funny. Stewart’s previous plays have deservedly received national and international acclaim. His play Singular Women won more Critic’s Choice awards than you might have thought existed.
I would also like to mention the exceptionally talented director, Tim Stark, who is very experienced. His cannon of work runs from Sid at the Trafalgar Studios to Julius Caesar at the Verona Shakespeare Festival and masses of high quality productions in between.
Reviewed by Graham Archer
Photo: Helen Murray
A Dark Night in Dalston plays at the Park Theatre until 1 April 2017