14 July 2017 to 16 July 2017
Advance publicity for Robert Elkin’s Quiet Night In brings to mind the Bridget Jones formula – a single woman who works in publishing and lives alone in her flat. Actually, Elkins is more concerned with guilt and reconciliation than moaning about the shortage of eligible men, and he has a novel way of telling his story.
Publishing assistant Sophie (sole performer Amy Gavin) auditions for a reality TV show in which she will host a dinner party at her flat. As part of the interview she names historical and fictional characters, musical and TV/film stars and one particular member of her family who would be her ideal guests at the party. Sophie is gobsmacked when everyone she named turns up at her flat, regardless of whether they are living, dead or fictional.
Elkin achieves striking results with a mixture of the fantastic and the mundane. The surreal idea of a party involving guests who, logically, cannot be there is balanced against the source of Sophie’s guilt being relatively minor - something that realistically could plague any of us. There is too much wish-fulfilment for the play to be completely satisfying, but it is charming.
Director George Want tackles the pitfalls involved in staging a monologue by simply ignoring them. Want draws the audience into the action of the play. The audience is seated around the stage and so pretty much plays the role of guests at the party as Sophie shares secrets and makes us her confidants.
Amy Gavin is an excellent hostess. She has a wide-eyed, down to earth approach, letting the audience know that she shares their incredulity about the fantastic premise while also convincing us to go along with the concept just to see what happens. It is a warm and funny performance and completely irresistible.
Although Sophie’s lingering guilt adds a welcome sourness to Quiet Night In, the fantasy aspects make it that bit too sweet to be entirely tasty.
Reviewer: David Cunningham