BWW Review: THE NIGHT WATCH at The Gamm Theatre
The Night Watch, the Gamm Theatre's current production is storytelling at its best. But instead of taking the audience on a journey to find out how it ends, instead, the play winds it way backward in time to reveal how the how its intertwined stories began. The Gamm's production, directed by Tony Estrella, is the U.S. premiere.
Based on the book by Sarah Waters and adapted by Hattie Naylor, the play opens in 1947 London, as the characters and the city struggle to recover from the emotional and physical effects of World War II. The quick scenes come and go like recalled memories, as the events of the past six years are revealed and the audience discovers how these characters are linked. Waters' fiction often features historic settings and lesbian protagonists, and the Night Watch's cast includes both gay and straight characters struggling with their wartime experiences.
The Night Watch presents an ideal showcase for the talents of this ensemble cast, giving some actors the opportunities to portray their characters at extremes and others the opportunity to show off their flexibility in multiple roles.
Outstanding in this capacity is Casey Seymour Kim, who charmed in this first scene as the bubbly busybody, Mrs. Alexander, and later returned as the rough and tumble auto mechanic, Mickey. Kim is one of those actors who delights every moment she is on stage. Michael Liebhauser also shines at this, playing both chatty journalist Robert Fraser and Cole, one of Mickey's friends in the wartime ambulance brigade. Kim and Liebhauser also both excelled at mastering the very different British accents of their characters. British accents done wrong, can take the focus completely off the show. Here they were all seamless and natural, thanks to the direction of Dialect Coach, Candice Brown.
Erin Eva Butcher shines as Viv Pearce, portraying the character as she survives war, betrayal and personal heartaches. Butcher is reminiscent of British actress Claire Foy, who coincidentally played Helen in the BBC television movie of The Night Watch. One of the most touching performances is that of Gillian Mariner Gordon, who portrays war-time ambulance worker Kay Langrish at times with a fragility so delicate she seems she might break and at other times with a jovial bravery. Like Kay, the character of Duncan Pearce was emotionally wounded by the war and was richly brought to life by Patrick Mark Saunders.
Rounding out the cast are Rachel Dulude who portrayed the needy and jealous Helen with intensity; Meg Kiley Smith who portrayed both glamorous author Julia Standing and eccentric faith healer, Mrs. Leonard; and Jim O'Brien portrayed creepy prison warden Horace Mundy and Mr. Wilson.
Costume Designer Meg Donnelly's choices were a treat for the eyes, especially the looks she created for Viv, Julia and Mrs. Alexander.
The Night Watch runs until February 10 at The Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI. Form more information, gammtheatre.org