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Review: The Night Heron by Jez Butterworth

Written by  Saturday, 05 March 2016
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Review: The Night Heron by Jez Butterworth Credit: Mrudula Utukuri

Jez Butterworth's The Night Heron (2002) will scare you, make you laugh, and most of all intrigue you.

On a wet night in Cambridge, the audience of The Corpus Playroom are sparse to say the least. I had a row to myself and an unhindered view. What a shame for the people who didn't attend, as we received a treat of a production.

Jess (Jamie Robson) and Griffin (Nick Ash) are ex-gardeners, living in a dive, in modern day Fen Ditton, Cambridge, trying to survive and make enough money to eat and pay some shadowy figure about an unknown incident, or the entire town will find out.

Butterworth's brilliant script constantly withholds information, feeding it to us in offhand remarks or freight train sentences packed full of glimpses to the characters’ lives. The ending leaves many doors open, allowing us to imagine the answers to those hanging questions. This is a bold move and can often collapse a play, but here it feels fresh and daring. We never quite know where this is going, but that’s a good thing. In the closing moments it would have been easy to stagger towards cliché, after putting up such a splendid race, yet Butterworth avoids it, which gives the script the final seal of quality.

Naomi Obeng directed a bullet of a play, there’s no time for Pinter pauses. All actors performed with true dedication. Robson brought out the frightening and fragile side of Jess. Ash energised the production, ripping one line zingers that had we been a larger audience would have shook the theatre with laughter. Carine Valarche as Bolla offers a softness to the harshest character, which draws us into relating to her.

Overall, a magnificent performance of a wonderful drama. I adored every minute. When I left the delightful theatre the play’s lingering sense of fear followed me all the way home.

The Night Heron played at The Corpus Playroom, Cambridge from Tuesday 1st March to Saturday the 5th March.

Read 1314 times Last modified on Thursday, 31 March 2016
Garry Pope

Garry Pope writes film reviews for Take One, an independent magazine and website. He also writes book reviews for Great Shelford Village News. He read Creative Writing at M.A. and B.A. levels at Anglia Ruskin University and Roehampton University. He has written novels, short stories, plays and film scripts: all successfully unpublishable!

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