Park Theatre plays host to Twilight Song, the final play from Kevin Elyot, completed in 2014 before he passed away. Best known for comedy My Night With Reg, which recently enjoyed a critically-acclaimed revival at the Donmar, Elyot’s final play is a slight affair, unlikely to make the same impression as his most famous work.
Set on three summer nights, years apart, the play explores themes of unfulfillment, to varying degrees of success. We first meet uptight Barry (Paul Higgins), a cardigan clad 50-something recluse, who is taken in by Adam Garcia’s cocksure estate agent. Despite some pacy, witty writing, the actors fail to connect, with some mis-timed delivery giving the night a shaky start.
Thankfully things improve as we are taken back to the ’60s, as Barry’s mother Isabella (Call the Midwife’s Bryony Hannah) and her husband (also played by Higgins) prepare to play host to their elderly uncle Charlie and his closeted lover. The play feels more at home in this era, as sexuality, longing and missed chances are explored in the broadest of brushstrokes.
In these scenes, Hugh Ross gives a gorgeous performance as Charlie, adding much needed nuance to the two-dimensional characterisation offered by Elyot.
The rest of the cast is solid, but with very little in the way of character development they struggle to make much of an impact. Jumping between generations, characters are slighted by the brief runtime (75 minutes), making plot points feel forced and unbelievable as we whizz through infidelity, suicide and illegitimate children. As such, when we finally see Isabella in the present day, as Barry’s elderly, gin-soaked mother, it’s hard to empathise with her sense of loss and longing.
There are moments of poignancy and sparks of Elyot’s masterful wordplay scattered throughout, but Twilight song is more a diverting nice-to-have than an essential must-see.
Cast: Adam Garcia, Bryony Hannah, Paul Higgins, Philip Bretherton, Hugh Ross Writer: Kevin Elyot Director: Anthony Banks Duration: 75 mins Theatre: Park Theatre Dates: July 12th – August 12th 2017