In the Dead of Night – The Landor (London)
Written and Directed by Claudio Macor
Review by Alexandra Birchfield
As the lights go down, the music rises and the title “In the Dead of Night” is projected across the back wall of Clapham’s Landor Theatre, it is difficult not to feel nostalgic for a time when going to the cinema was a far more exciting event. The heyday of the silver screen and film noir is something I think many people are fascinated by and drawn to. The premise Claudio Macor’s play; film noir without the heavy censorship of 1930’s – 60’s Hollywood, is brilliant.
There is a pervasive atmosphere of oppressive heat and simmering tension. The dance numbers throughout the show are cleverly used to portray both the violence and overt sexuality of the story’s landscape. This all feels much more immediate of course in a small intimate theatre than it would in a cinema. This serves to further highlight how confronting these films would have been had they not had to gloss over much of the realities of their environment and subject matter. The unashamed exploration of the darkness, grit and vice in this story is refreshing and moving.
The show is perhaps a little rough around the edges. While the choreography is tight and polished, the dialogue is stilted in places. Some of the exposition to explain the background and previous events is a bit awkward and a few of the character relationships could do with some further developing.
This is emphatically not true however of the relationship between Matt Mella’s Leandro and Jordan Alexander’s Massimo which is quite exquisite. It is by turns touching, painful and erotic and always deeply honest. These two were for me the highlight of the show. Susannah Allman is by turns jaded and optimistic with a defensive, studied sensuality that can be both charming and heart-breaking. There is something of Judith Paris’ Elvira that is very reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn, one of the strongest leading ladies of old Hollywood.
The design is excellent, of course this is a divine era to work with but it would be easy to do badly. There is a wonderful juxtaposition in the way a fairly simple set is made to feel at times cluttered and claustrophobic. It perfectly captures the shabby dilapidation with touches of faded glamour that hint at a gaudy, hedonistic past.
This show has great potential and I hope will come into its own as the run progresses.
“In the Dead of Night” is playing at the Landor theatre from 22nd April to 16th May
@AMBirchfield – Alexandra is a New Zealand born actor and writer who has been living in the UK for 4 years. She spent the first three years in Glasgow studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is now living in London with two lovely flatmates and one very pampered cat.