BWW Reviews: CATF 2014: ONE NIGHT Features Excellent Special Effects and Performances, but Poor Plot and Pacing
Though featuring excellent individual performances by talented actors and spectacular lighting and special effects, One Night suffers from a confusing script, two dimensional characters and dragging pace.
One Night tells the story of two hardened Iraq War veterans, Alicia and Horace, who are in a relationship. Adrift from homeless shelter to shelter, their current shelter has burned down and they are forced to stay in a sketchy motel for one night. Throughout the show, both characters suffer from various forms of PTSD and it is gradually revealed through flashbacks that Alicia was sexually assaulted while in military service, but has received little to no help from the military upon her return to civilian life and her rapists (one of whom is still unidentified) have basically escaped unpunished.
Kaliswa Brewster as Alicia gave an exceptionally strong performance. As a victim of sexual assault in the military, Brewster had a commanding stage presence with the perfect combination of strength and vulnerability. She transitioned from her mental breakdowns and flashback sequences to the present action occurring onstage effortlessly.
Willie C. Carpenter as seedy motel owner Meny was excellent and very natural in the role. Shauna Miles, Brit Whittle and Matthew Burcham in their various roles as present-day characters and memories in flashbacks were all outstanding. Miles in particular had exceptional charisma, a strong stage presence and transitioned effortlessly in between her very varied roles. Whittle was also very authentic in his variety of everyman roles.
The standout performer of One Night was Jason Babinsy as Horace. Babinsy was incredibly dangerous and believable in every powerful movement or threat. As one of the many villainous characters in the piece, his motives were subtle at first, and in a brilliant character transformation, became much more pronounced as the story unfolded. Babinsy displayed outstanding stage presence and increased the tension and energy in every scene he came stomping into.
Though it featured an interesting and controversial subject matter, the pace of the show did not match the rapid-fire subject matter in the slightest. The story was very drawn-out and the performance dragged at times. Certain plot elements and themes were rehashed over and over while others were barely noted upon, if even repeated at all. Though a glossary of army and armed forces lingo was provided to audiences in the program, the constant army terms and rare rapid fire exchanges of army lingo at peak emotional moments provided even more confusion to the mainly civilian audience. The references to the title of the show, One Night, within the show became extremely redundant.
Individual performers in their roles were excellent, but were given two dimensional characters and a confusing sequence of events to work with. The major plot twist of the show, revealed at the climax as expected, was evident within the first five minutes of the production. Though the script featured more than enough details and length, some plot points were still left unresolved by the conclusion of the show.
Despite some script and pacing issues, the technical effects in One Night were outstanding. The flashback sequences were executed perfectly with very smooth transitions. An exceptional lighting effect at a key moment in the show heightened the drama and intensity of the sequence and added another layer of depth to the characters' trauma.
One Night continues to run as one of the five plays in rotating repertory at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. One Night performances occur at the Frank Center Theater on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. The final performance occurs August 3 at 2:00 PM. For more information about the show schedule, the 2014 season or to order tickets, please visit www.catf.org.
Photo Credit: CATF Media Gallery