The Finborough Theatre is currently playing host to the Papatango playwrighting competition: The outright winner (which I'll review next) gets a full month's run in rep with three other finalists which each get a week's run. The first¹ runner up is Matt Morrison's Through the Night
, a family drama I found rather problematically underpowered. It centres on Jessica and Michael (Jan Shepherd and Steven Elder,) fiercely in denial that their son Joe (Jack Johns) has probably committed a horrific crime. Jessica's friend Sal (Terri Dwyer) arrives late one night to say that her daughter Debbie (Nadia Giscir) witnessed a street fight which ended in a boy's death, and Joe running away from the scene of the crime. Jessica finds many reasons to convince herself, Sal and Debbie that the girl was mistaken, but when Michael goes off to find Joe, his alibi doesn't look so good.
As the title suggests, the action takes place in a series of scenes throughout the night; with the exception of a very well-done fight scene between Elder and Liam Smith as the stoner dad of Joe's friend (fight choreography by Christopher D Hunt) Matt Grinter's production doesn't really have a lot of variety of tone. I also found the characterisation problematic - I never got a handle on whether Joe's parents had any inkling their son might have a violent side, and whether they did or not their initial reaction to the accusation is incredibly casual. The Sal/Jessica relationship also seems to change according to the story's needs - they've been close friends for 16 years, since their children were born, and Jessica seems to be Sal's first port of call in any crisis, yet they seem to have open contempt for each other. Ultimately although Through the Night
has its moments, I feel like I've seen this sort of story told better before.Through the Night
by Matt Morrison is in repertory until the 11th of December at the Finborough Theatre.
¹chronologically; if the three runners up have been ranked there's no indication of it in the publicity