The Darkest Part of the Night (London) London Reviews and Tickets
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent
About the Show
Zodwa Nyoni’s family drama about siblings who reconnect as adults after the burial of their mother.
While growing up, siblings Shirley and Dwight encountered unique challenges of their own in 80s Chapeltown, Leeds. Dwight, a black boy with autism, felt misunderstood by the world around him. Shirley struggled to forge an identity of her own that wasn't influenced by her school and home life.
Now reunited as adults following the death of their mother, Shirley and Dwight must learn to heal from their past in order to move forward.
Written by Zodwa Nyoni ('Nine Lives') and directed by Nancy Medina ('Trouble in Mind').
"Director Nancy Medina could usefully have tightened the play’s focus, but the delineation of the relationships between Dwight, his older sister Shirley, their mother Josephine and father Leroy is beautifully done."
"I found the evening too hermetic and protracted. ... The social context feels cursory, whether that’s the local community or the wider, then inescapable, presence of the Thatcherite project. More voices in the mix, and a brisker pace, could turn a laudable effort into an exemplary one."
"It has its rough edges, and there are moments when the political message is delivered by megaphone, yet thanks in part to exceptional performances from a multitasking cast, Zodwa Nyoni’s time-shifting portrait of the relationship between an autistic boy and his older sister holds your attention to the end."
"Nyoni is a writer who combines a forensic eye for detail with a sharp ear for humour. Through telling the story of one family she is able to pinpoint so many failings in the system down the years. The fact it takes a love so strong in order for Dwight to have even a chance at happiness is perhaps the most heartbreaking thing of all."
"The power of this production’s focus on Dwight is realised with an extraordinary performance from Lee Phillips. Excelling in his character, he balances his unease with a genuine love for his family. Heart-wrenching and essential, this is not perfect theatre, but it packs a punch."
"Black lives are made of multitudes and this piece reflects that. There is a risk, though, that starting this particular conversation so far in the past creates too comfortable a distance from reality."