By Chloe Moss
Directed by David Bell
With Olivia Connolly & Andrea Swifte
Set: Dayna Morrissey
Lighting: Stelios Karagiannis
Stage Manager: Olivia Crockford
This Wide Night (18 March – 18 April, 2009)
Cameron Woodhead, The Age, 23 March, 2009
AFTER a residency in a women’s prison, British playwright Chloe Moss wrote This Wide Night, a sympathetic portrait of two former inmates, Marie (Olivia Connolly) and Lorraine (Andrea Swifte), and their struggle to adjust to life on the outside. It’s a brilliant play. A month ago, it won the Susan Smith Blackburn prize in the US (the judges included Edward Albee), and given the depth and incisiveness of the script, this is unlikely to be the last accolade Moss receives.
The action takes place entirely in Marie’s double-deadlocked bedsit. Her isolation is interrupted when her former cellmate Lorraine arrives. They’re an odd couple. Marie is in her 30s, a spiky and insecure ex-junkie. Lorraine, in her 50s, is a larger-than-life extrovert.
As they natter and go about their chores, they resume the intimate relationship they developed in jail. Possibly lovers, and certainly more than friends, the pair display a mutual dependence that would be morbid if the alternative were not so bleak.
Audiences will be reminded of Samuel Beckett, and Moss is alive to the influence: there are shades here of Vladimir and Estragon.
Swifte portrays Lorraine’s deflected maternal instincts, her capacity for violence, and her stoicism with empathy and emotional precision. And while Connolly gets off to a nervous start as Marie, she improves as the play progresses, providing a sardonic, enervated foil to her partner’s big personality.
This Wide Night is a play in which not much happens. It’s a tribute to the intensity and realism of Moss’ drama, as well as David Bell’s assured direction, that it remains engrossing.