Theatre review: Moonlight After Midnight

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: There's a guy in a room. There's a woman in a room. All over the Edinburgh Fringe, the story is the same. The houselights go down, two people enter and we sit in the dark, wondering who they are and what the scant pieces of furniture around them represent.

Assembly George Square Theatre (Venue 8)


As they start to talk, we grasp at straws. Are they who they say they are? Are they dissembling? If they’re who they seem, what is the significance? What are they performing? Who, indeed, are they performing to?

Such questions are more to the fore than usual in Martin Dockery’s circular two-hander for Concrete Drops Theatre, performed by the playwright and dramaturg Vanessa Quesnelle. Keeping us guessing about past, present and future, he presents two people in a hotel room, seemingly inventing themselves – and then reinventing – through a process of role play and improvisation.

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She could be a prostitute, a therapist, a wedding guest or a wife. He could be an innocent hotel guest, a role-play fetishist, a new groom or a long-term husband. Their conversation – all clipped, staccato, rapid-fire exchanges – makes all of these seem possible and, as they replay their encounter, as if caught up in an endless loop, the possibilities only multiply.

Dockery’s script keeps just the right side of elusive, so that even when we’re guessing, there’s enough of a thread to hold on to. That’s helped by the fine-tuned performances of the two actors, which have a funny, conversational to-and-fro rhythm, part-aggressive, part-playful. They seem like strangers but talk like intimates.

It turns out to be a meditation on grief. Much like Zinnie Harris’s Meet Me At Dawn and Bluemouth’s Party Game (both at the Traverse), it is about the spiralling games the mind plays as it comes to terms with loss. It’s not unlike all the what-if questions an audience asks when it sits down to watch a piece of theatre.

Until 28 August. Today 3pm.