Day One. A Hotel, Evening

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If Day One. A Hotel, Evening had ended five seconds sooner, it would have been in my top five plays of the year. Joanna Murray-Smith’s usual mix of wit and drama is hard at work, the cast give their all, and the stagecraft is nearly flawless. The quality of Red Stitch’s production is reduced only by minor quibbles with the production, and a major issue with the script.

The plot of Day One is simple: take three couples, have them all sleep with each other, watch the fallout. Convolutions arise, particularly when some characters begin juggling paramours, and the core of the piece revolves around these tangled webs. When this is the focus of the script, Day One sings, dealing out so much wit that reminded me of The Importance of Being Earnest, with character complexity and pathos thrown in for good measure.

Unfortunately, Murray-Smith’s subplots nearly derail the show. The two characters who remain relatively chaste end up at the centre of a half-baked B-story, with a resolution at the conclusion of the show that comes off as distracting and out of place. It’s a shame that this down-note is the last event before the bows.

The cast, in a word, are sublime. Two short observations: Dion Mills as Sam had incredible commitment to every comedic riff, particularly when he had to produce sex noises, and Anna Samson as Rose is pioneering a new niche: under-the-table acting.

Day One is really brought together by director Gary Abrahams. Abrahams directs the actors with subtlety and encourages a stillness that aids both the comedy and the dramatics. He cuts to the core of each character’s motivations in the scene, simplifying them to ‘I want to fuck you’ or ‘I want to fucking kill you’.

Day One. A Hotel, Evening has its issues, but they are reduced to minor flaws by the performances, direction, stagecraft and the overall solid script. Right now, it could appear in small venues for years. With another workshop, it could be a classic.

Day One. A Hotel, Evening is playing at the Red Stitch until Dec 17.
For tickets and session times visit www.redstitch.net .

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