Holden Street Theatres
Until 15 Mar 2020

Review by Jamie Wright

It’s 2019 and the British print media is plastering the front pages with headlines about Shamima Begum, an English schoolgirl who ran away to Syria at age 15 to become a ‘jihadi bride’ and was later found in an internment camp and wanted to return home; the British public were outraged. Journalist Jane Fitzcarter, herself with a personal connection to the harshness of the conflict in the Middle East, is tasked with writing a story on the issue and seeks out former Iraq war soldier Kane, previously found not guilty of war crimes, for comment. After he sends her away empty handed, she keeps digging – and end up finding far more than she anticipated.

Henry Naylor’s plays always cast a light on complex, multifaceted issues; in ‘The Nights’ it is the horrors of war and how it affects those touched by it – particularly in terms of how cyclic violence can be perpetuated and justified.

Director Louise Skaaning has taken an extremely wordy text and given it great energy, but it still retains a lot of ‘stand and deliver’ moments; thankfully, Naylor’s writing is compelling enough that this isn’t nearly as detrimental as it might otherwise be. It also benefits from superb performances by Nicholas Boulton as Kane and Aoife Lennon as Fitzcarter.

A dark, haunting and often distressing production – but a gripping and thought-provoking one nonetheless.

Rating 4.5 stars (out of 5)