The Night Watch, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Review
**** 4 Stars
“ Theatre at its best!”
Following in the wake of the Man Booker Prize winning book and the critically acclaimed BBC adaptation, Sarah Waters story of forbidden love in the darkness of war torn London of the 1940’s comes to the stage for the first time and visits the beautiful King’s Theatre Edinburgh for a run.
The storyline is told in reverse starting from 1947 and moves back to 1941 the height of the blitz featuring the fragmented lives and the strange interconnections between Kay( Phoebe Price) Helen (Florence Roberts) and Julia (Izabella Urbanowicz), three lesbians; Viv(Louise Coulthard), a straight woman; and Duncan (Lewis Mackinnon), her brother, whose sexuality is ambiguous. The war, with its never-ending night watches, serves as a horrifying counterpoint, a backdrop and metaphor to serve as a constant reminder of the morbidity that surrounds life and love.
The power of Water’s original writing is captured beautifully in Hattie Naylor’s adaptation and directed with emotional detail by Alastair Whatley none more so that from an ensemble cast who deliver excellent performances throughout. Special mention must go to Price as Kay who does deliver an emotional and powerful performance in equal measure. The same is true of the real highlight of the production, Lewis MacKinnon turns in a tour de force performance as Duncan that’s superbly judged and keeps all eyes focused on him as he allows emotions to overwhelm him. Its theatre performing at its finest.
David Woodhead’s evocative set and costume design combined with Nic Farman’s beautifully understated lighting design takes us right inside the heart of London in the war years. This is further bolstered by a stunning sound design by Max Pappenheim that brings to life Sophie Cotton’s compositions that fuse evocative soundscapes with classic standards like, A nightingale in Berkley square and adds real class to the show.
The only thing keeping it from a fifth star is in the pacing, at times there does feel like a slight drag is developing and some fine trimming may aid eradicate this and make the play over all more capturing throughout.
The Night watch is indeed a play from a historical view point that says much to todays generation, the hurt and pain of the needless loss of war was felt beyond heterosexual couples, long before legal rights were won, The LGBTQI plus community suffered to, even more so for feeling a love that many deemed wrong and illegal. This play puts a strong context to that pain, and it’s felt across the foot lights and well into the audience. It’s a piece which truly touches the viewer and for that it makes this theatre at its best.
So get along to the King’s Theatre Edinburgh and be transported back to London in the war years for a play which will touch your heart.
The Original Theatre Company and York Theatre Royal Present, The Night Watch, King’s Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 19th October, for Tickets go to : https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/the-night-watch