THE NIGHT SEASON AT ERT

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THE NIGHT SEASON AT ERT!

Boasting a cast of seven fiendishly talented actors, “The Night Season”, written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, redefines the word “drama” for the better.

Directed by Adrian Rawlins for ERT, the play focuses on three Irish sisters (Judith, Rose and Maud), their father, Patrick, and their grandmother, Lily.

Judith (Bettine Mackenzie) wishes to see their estranged mother, now living in London for reasons undisclosed. It’s been years since they last saw her, yet Judith feels compelled to re-break the metaphorical ice. Meanwhile, perpetually sozzled Patrick is eagerly anticipating a date with one of the barmaids down his favourite boozer.

Played to perfection by Clive Kneller, Patrick initially gives the impression that he’s a hard-drinking miser. However, as the play progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that he possesses a heart of gold, loving his daughters beyond words – even if he doesn’t always show it. Pitching “his” Patrick as a cross between Victor Meldrew and Mark E. Smith, Kneller wholeheartedly brings his character to life, as does Lynne Verrall, who plays Lily.

The arrival of handsome actor John Eastman (played by Gabriel Winter, last seen pounding ERT’s boards as Hamlet) sets all three sisters’ hearts aflutter. Upon revealing that his mother passed away a few days beforehand, John shows his sensitive side to Kennedy sister Rose (Alice Beaumont), who – unbeknown to Judith and Maud (Evie Guttridge) – winds up sleeping with him. Rose is instantly besotted, only to learn the hard way that John is something of a player. Effectively mirroring Rose’s heartache, Judith’s love life also has a lot to answer for, even though wannabe-beau Gary (Josh Meredith) would clearly do anything for her if she’d let him.

All seven characters are desperately lonely in their own ways, none more so than Lily, a free-spirited woman of substance, who has her own inner crises with which to contend.

With the drama playing out within  Ed Ullyart’s astonishingly clever set, a “three-piece set” no less, the characters freely move between their shared home’s living room and bedrooms, John temporarily staying in Rose’s room whilst “in town” shooting a film about Yeats.

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As serious as the subject matter is, it’s also wildly funny, the majority of the laughs effortlessly generated by Kneller, his drunken rants representing comedy gold. Verrall, too, has some wickedly funny one-liners: testament to Lenkiewicz’s considerable writing talents.

A play worth seeing more than once, “The Night Season” triumphs as a profoundly moving tour-de-force, an exquisitely engaging work of brilliance plastered with cracking dialogue.

Visit www.eastridingtheatre.co.uk for more information

Heading to India this year? Don’t visit without downloading a copy of Steve Rudd’s “Pulse” first!

(Steve Rudd)

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