A Dark Night in Dalston, Park Theatre

Former nurse Gina couldn’t help it, she just had to help Gideon when she found him dazed and wounded on her Dalston doorstep. And he just had to stay in her flat when it turned dark because it’s Friday and he’s Jewish and he can’t take the train all the way back to Stanmore on shabbat. Especially not in his condition.

The attraction between the two is obvious almost from the beginning, and as this unconventional shabbat progresses, it seems more and more that these two are made for each other.

Gina (Michelle Collins) has kids who won’t speak to her and can’t work as a nurse anymore because she’s too busy caring for her bedridden husband Billy. To say she feels trapped is stating the bleedin’ obvious, although it’s one of the few obviouses she isn’t stating. Gideon (Joe Coen), 27, is engaged to a nice Jewish girl who’s perfect for him but comes regularly to Dalston to have sex with one of Gina’s neighbours. His father won’t allow him to follow his passion for film, so he works as an accountant with men he hates who only talk about football and women.

As their stories emerge throughout the night, escape routes for each of them emerge and are tried. But ultimately, both just need to face up to who they are, what they want to be, and what they can cope with. Gina needs to untangle her feelings for Billy, and Gideon needs to deal, one way or the other, with his family’s expectations and become his own man.

Stewart Permutt’s witty script is full of twists and turns. It deftly hints at what’s to come without spoiling the surprise. Michelle Collins and Joe Coen perform it brilliantly, both creating nuanced, relatable and likable characters. Also worth mentioning is Giles Thomas’ sound design, which cleverly evokes the background hum of bustling, dirty, multicultural Dalston as it changes throughout the night.

As to how it ends, we never quite find out. But this one, dark night is certainly the start of something for Gina and Gideon – whether it’s being together or living their own, happier lives apart.

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