Two actors. Minimal set. No intermission. Easily transportable. A description of “Any Night” which is now trying to scare up its audience at the LABA Theatre @ the 14th Street Y (344 East 14 St) after being hailed by Canadian critics where it has won numerous awards including “Best of the Year” and “Best New Play”. Some pretty good credentials that unfortunately it doesn’t live up to. Hitchcock’s Psycho it isn’t.
I’ll give it high marks for attempting to create a who-will-do-it-to-whom-and-why creepy chilling kind of drama. But very early on Anna (Medina Hahn) a beautiful young woman whose main problem is sleepwalking declares that someone will die and someone will die inside.
As there are only two characters, the other being a computer nerd willing to be Mr. Helpful – Patrick (Daniel Arnold) her new neighbor upstairs from the basement suite that she has recently rented after leaving her overly confining boyfriend Ben the odds are even as to the outcome.
Even an ostrich with its head imbedded deep in the sand would figure out what’s going to happen in this pseudo psycho drama – written and produced by our two actors. The only thing chilling about Any Night is the air conditioning.
Director Ron Jenkins does his best to spook it up with the help of some nice lighting effects by David Fraser and sound design by Gord Heal.
The dialogue is mostly banal. Getting to know you stuff that doesn’t pay off until the last twenty minutes. The song “Everybody’s Looking for Someone” (Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) made famous by the Eurythmics and Marilyn Mason is used throughout and it’s like hitting us over the head with a sledge hammer. Nothing subtle here.
There are off stage voices (Brian Linds) spying on Anna as she sleeps. There are thunderstorms. There is Colette – the psychic next door who reads Anna’s cards. Daniel Arnold triples as Colette and Ben. There are spastic modern dance movements (Anna wanted to be a ballerina) and lots of running around the set with the use of a movable three step staircase which keeps the momentum going if nothing else.
Is Patrick as nice as he seems? Is he telling Anna the whole truth and nothing but? Is Anna just plain bonkers? Will her prophecy of death be fulfilled?
Both actors do a fine job at portraying these complicated star crossed lovers but they cannot overcome their own script which their director has tried to spice up with some eerie touches that had me on the edge of my seat not in suspense but ready to leave.
www.AnyNightThePlay.com Through June 19th. Photo: Stephanie Hull
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