Night Owls

Will Evans
Royal Court Theatre Upstairs: Young Writers' Festival 2002

The first play in the second programme of the Young Writers' Festival 2002 is a funny, cleverly devised piece that lasts a mere ten minutes and could have sustained much more.

Barry (Howard Ward) is not having a good time of it: he is a dodgy minicab driver who has left his wife and has a sulky teenage daughter. The play consists of a series of very short snapshots running through a single night as he is stuck with daughter, Sarah (Jo Joyner).

Having picked her up from school, his intention is to deliver her straight home to her mother and her mother's new man. Unfortunately, she is locked out and he is forced to take her out in the cab for the night.

In a series of very short snappy sketches, we learn of Sarah's loss of her boyfriend to her erstwhile best friend. We also see the love that exists between the down-at-heel Barry and his pubescent, constantly uncomfortable daughter. This is all rather touching particularly due to the very strong performance that director Ramin Gray draws from the actors.

To accompany the personal drama, there is also some high comedy as an assortment of weird and wonderful night owls rush through the cab. Designer Simon Daw uses a triptych screen to show videos of the night streets which creates a powerful sense of place and time as the cab is occupied by first, Sarah's schoolmates (or not), then a pair that is intent on avoiding payment and finally two pretty hot lovers.

The play crams a vast amount into a very short time and suggests that Will Evans has a very bright future.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher