The Original Theatre Company and York Theatre Royal present the stage adaptation of the Sarah Waters novel ‘The Night Watch’. Set in the 1940s in London, it is the story of four people whose lives are entwined and so are their secrets.
With the back drop of the Second World War to add to the difficulties of these peoples’ lives, what they went through and the choices they had to make, these characters are also dealing with their secrets which include affairs, miscarriage, cowardice, and same sex relationships – something very much kept under cover in this era.
The unusual aspect of the play, which is in the book, it starts at the end and ends at the start. We first meet the characters after the war when things are trying to get back to normal although of course war changes everything and everyone. The characters are finding it hard to adapt and some more than others, some miss the war as they had a purpose and adventure and now there is nothing for them, lives have been destroyed. Therefore, we first meet the characters and things seem pretty depressing, if I’m honest.
As the story unfolds, we realise the play is going backwards in time and things make more sense as the play continues. We can connect the dots and understand why Kay (Phoebe Pryce) is roaming the streets searching for something lost. We learn about their personal dramas how these events changed the course of their lives to reach the point where we are introduced to them. That’s four main characters, plus four important other characters, entwined stories, going backwards. You need to be sharp for this one.
There is no doubt it’s a sombre story. This isn’t a play where you come out smiling with joy or sides hurting with laughing so much. You come asking questions and thankful for how far society has come.
The book has great reviews and pitched as a “thrilling story about relationships full of subtle surprises and twists”, “compelling…sexually and psychologically provocative.”“Captivating.” Maybe if you have read and enjoyed the book, seeing the characters come to life would be an enjoyable experience. If you’ve not read the book you would still have an interesting evening at the theatre.
The actors were completely believable and depicted their characters well. Although I have not read the book, the adaptation was engaging, there were entwined, yet separate scenes and a fluidity of movement not expected with the content.
Certainly worth watching if you have read the book, but also open minded for something different.
Kay – Phoebe Pryce
Helen – Florence Roberts
Duncan – Lewis MacKinnon
Julia – Izabella Urbanowicz
Viv – Louise Coulthard
Robert – Sam Jenkins-Shaw
Mr Mundy – Malcolm James
Mickey – Mara Allen
This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE
Photo credit Mark Douet