Lovely Evening

Peter Gill
Direct Action in association with the Young Vic
Theatre 503, Battersea

Lovely Evening publicity image

This is the first play in a Peter Gill double bill of love stories directed by Daniel Evans, better known as an actor who was recently seen at the Donmar with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in Grand Hotel.

Lovely Evening and In the Blue are part of the Young Vic's 2005 Direct Action Season at the Empty Space award-winning Theatre 503 in Battersea.

This programme showcases young directors, allowing them to work in professional theatres with top designers. In this case, Christopher Oram who designed Grand Hotel provides a flaming backdrop in Turneresque colours.

Already, Direct Action has produced Rufus Norris and Josette Bushell-Mingo, whose Festen and Simply Heavenly have been major West End successes this year.

Lovely Evening features Benjamin Davies' shy Laurence and his attempts to seduce his girlfriend, Marion, played by Nia Roberts. As this is Wales in the early 1950s, she is obliged to fight him off despite her inclinations.

His preparations, shown in detail, are shared with his lugubrious father and grimly camp uncle. Why Laurence should need a mac on a lovely evening becomes apparent as the action develops.

There is an added poignancy in that Laurence has recently lost his mother, although her influence remains with him on an almost constant basis.

With a combination of costume and ambience, the creative team creates a good sense of the period and it is almost possible to feel Laurence's frustration as he attempts his assault on Mount Marion.

Daniel Evans uses an understated style to good effect in this naturalistic play that must have autobiographical roots. The two main characters are well-developed and Gill skilfully catches the combination of innocence and Catholic guilt that a lustful young man must have suffered all those years ago.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher