Charles L. Mee’s new play “Night,” directed by Ildiko Nemeth, is an examination of hate and violence in the world, and an impassioned plea for peace and humanity – an impressive multi-media feast of talk, music, movement, and film.
An attractive narrator/singer, dressed in a faux Grecian ensemble, started the evening with a dizzying recitation of sections of Seneca’s classic tale “Thyestes,” which Mee accurately describes as “all nightmare and despair and darkness.” Gruesome activities indeed, with rivalry, murders, and a father tricked into eating his two murdered sons. The complicated story was a challenge to follow and remember, but served to set the scene for enactments of horror, contrasted with lightness and brief moments of kindness.
“Night” proceeded as a study in contrasts, with a jolly dinner party of laughing, lovemaking, and chattering in the presence of a frail, emaciated man; the mock sophisticated women discussing how much progress humanity has made; the men relating nothing but stories of violence and destruction; cleverly staged battle scenes; and a fully covered figure who comically prepared an omelet for the cast, only to reveal himself as a figure of death, to name out a few.
The evening ran the gamut from absurd to manic to quite moving, performed by a totally committed cast of singer/dancer/actors, representing different ages, personalities, shapes and sizes. Music choices were also a study in contrasts, ranging from Henryk Gorecki and Shostakovich, to deliberately trite ditties. The striking background videos included visions of war and chaos to bucolic scenes. The ending, though too extended, was optimistic, expressing the belief that no man should abandon hope. Everything here but the kitchen sink, but the message was clear and the evening was always unpredictable and engrossing.
Innovative Theatre Awards 2015:
Outstanding Performance Art Production
Outstanding Director (nomination)