Reel and rout

Night Games

By Hugh O'Conor, adapted from Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde
Directed by Simon Muller
Scrub Productions
Nada 45
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Sheila Mart

Night Games is a fairly skillful adaptation of Schnitzler's La Ronde, which, although it started out life on the stage, became even more successful as a classic French film over 30 years ago. This play is an exercise, or exploration if you will, of the many foibles of the human condition, specifically as they relate to the complex relationship between the sexes.

There are five pairings of male-female relationships in this two-character play, enacted by Kate Richards and Daniel Pirrie. First, there is the Prostitute, who persuades the Young Student into what is possibly his first sexual experience; then the Maid is seduced by the Young Man. The third episode in this series of vignettes (which is basically what this play is), between the Young Wife and the (relatively) Young Husband, points out familiar insecurities of many newlyweds. Episode number four shows the Sweet Young Miss - a wide-eyed innocent, possibly from a small town - who appears awed by the Poet and falls hook, line, and sinker for his "schmooze" talk about how an artist works, translating his life experience into his work. The fifth episode, between the Actress and the Gentleman, could almost be a replay (when the participants are several years older and have experienced some life) of the first vignette - thus coming full circle - La Ronde.

Schnitzler's observation of male and female behavior is astute, and although he chooses different characters to show various behavioral aspects, he also shows that these characteristics could belong to all of us, and O'Conor's adaptation seems to have picked this observation up.

In a stage play it makes perfect sense to illustrate these themes with just two actors. However, as talented as both Kate Richards and Daniel Pirrie were, and they were very talented and worked well together, neither one of them showed sufficient experience to acquit themselves fully in these roles, which demand a much greater sense of style and versatility. At present, there were no real differences among the characters they were portraying. Both Ms. Richards and Mr. Pirrie had good voices and plenty of stage presence, no doubt thanks to their Edinburgh University training and experience in that Fringe Festival.

Director Simon Muller came up with a physically commendable achievement, given the confines of such a small space. But the pacing of the whole piece left something to be desired. It had such a uniformly fast pace as to cause the actors to swallow their lines at times. Speed does not make up for lack of style.

The uncredited costumes were effective and adequate, without being obtrusive.

Tom Juneau, set designer, created a fabulously imaginative set, which gave the illusion of tremendous space.

Jo George, technical director, did a superb job with the lighting, which could not have been easy, again given the size of the space. The ingenuity of Hannah Lewis, production stage manager (probably the most thankless job in the theatre), held everything together beautifully. Let us hope these Brits soon return in a space worthy of their talents.
Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 2
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 1999 Sheila Mart