Written by Lucy Reynolds

Arts

Review: Night + Daze

Are you ready for the wildest night out ever? Lucy Reynolds caught 412 Productions’ monologue, fizzing with dance and comedy, about one bloke’s epic night on the tiles.

Ella Daley and Philip Stokes in Night + DazeEveryone has had a night out that’s the stuff of legend, whether it was mind-blowingly brilliant or face-palmingly awful. Mine, unfortunately the latter, ended up with my fingers nearly broken in a club door and everyone in the taxi on the way home staring out of the windows, crying silently – but that is another story for another day.

New play Night + Daze from 412 Productions follows the epic night out of Sheffy, part lager-lout, part-philosopher, who recalls his fateful tale in blistering, witty detail.

From award-winning playwright Philip Stokes (Heroin(e) for Breakfast, Beeston Rifles) Night + Daze effortlessly blends physical comedy, dance and breakneck storytelling into an hour of electrifying theatre that will not only make you belly laugh but will also make you wonder about those nights out when a chance meeting could change your life forever.

Mark ‘Sheffy’ Sheffield (Lee Bainbridge) is a lad – one who can also quote Sartre, but a lad nonetheless – who at the weekend is on that age-old mission to get drunk and cop off. Unfortunately for Sheffy, this particular night is not going to plan. Dodging wide-boy dealers, coma-inducing office bores and spurning the advances of psychopathic party girls, he’s desperately trying to connect with ‘the girl in the All Saints jacket’ who appears like a shining beacon of hope in the bleak landscape of club beats and endless shots. And when I say the night out doesn’t go to plan, that is quite an understatement.

What makes the play so special is the blend of dance, comedy and theatre, a potent combination when mixed with strong performances from the two main actors. 412 Productions is a Yorkshire-based dance theatre company, headed by Stokes and Ella Daley. Night + Daze is not only choreographed by Daley, an accomplished professional dancer, but also stars her as… well… everyone apart from Sheffy.

“As Bainbridge explodes his way through his epic monologue, Daley brilliantly acts as his shadow, transforming at times from the beautiful girl of his dreams, perfectly en pointe, into the terrifying sexual predator ‘Jenny’.”

One of the most impressive aspects of the play is how it twists your perception of the characters. Sheffy, on first look, appears like your larger-than-life, intimidating bruiser, with Daley his polar opposite: blonde, beautiful, slim and athletic. Yet as the action unfolds, it is almost as if the roles are swapped, with Bainbridge adding a wonderfully touching vulnerability to Sheffy and the eye-wateringly flexible Daley adopting a range of almost commedia dell’arte type characters, transforming from Prima Ballerina to grotesque caricatures of drug dealers, city wankers and sexed up revellers.

As Bainbridge explodes his way through his epic monologue (he has to remember around 9,000 words), Daley brilliantly acts as his shadow, transforming at times from the beautiful girl of his dreams, perfectly en pointe, into the terrifying sexual predator ‘Jenny’, Sheffy’s boozed-up near-conquest, who stalks him throughout the night, gyrating, writhing and, at one point, crawling among the audience to track down her prey. If Sheffy is a lad then Daley physically becomes ‘uber-lad’, which plays out perfectly on stage and appears to be a satirical swipe at the kind of machismo-laden, misogynist culture popularised by feeble ‘comedy’ such as Dapper Laughs (excuse me while I go and wash my mouth out with soap).

Ella Daley and Philip Stokes in Night + DazeUsing bodies and sound effects to transform a bare stage into a nightclub, Night + Daze is definitely like nothing you have seen before. With a deft ear for rhythm, Stokes’ language is at times hypnotising, with jokes and cultural references thrown out at breakneck speed, leaving you breathless with laughter and the sheer pace of it. It’s not often that a crude knob gag can be sandwiched between an illuminating philosophical quote and a clever pun about Oedipus Rex and all seem to fit perfectly together, but Night + Daze manages to do this, as well as genuinely making you a little bit emotional at the end… ahem… not that I was. Just had something in my eye. Honest.

Following successful shows in Yorkshire and London, 412 take Night + Daze to the Edinburgh festival: The Underbelly, Cowgate, 6 to 30 Aug (except 12 Aug), 7.20pm. http://412.productions

@MissReno1981

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Written by Lucy Reynolds

Lucy is a teacher whose dream as a child was to be WWE Wrestling Champion. That dream is still alive.