Henna Night

The intense naturalism of this piece is realised in the staging. A wholly unglamourous single woman's apartment, strewn with empty cigarette boxes and dirty clothes, is lit for a short while before anyone enters the scene – the late entrance reminding us that this is real life. Packed boxes indicate the female occupant's recent installation, the reason is revealed through the replay of an emotional answerphone message left that evening in which she tells us that she isn't coping with the break-up and has bought some henna and some razor blades, threatening death or new hair. Oh, and that she might be pregnant.Enter protagonist Judith. Her ex-boyfriend, Jack, cheated on her and has now chosen his floozy over her. She, heartbroken, appears with her hair wrapped up in a towel: a good sign, then. She's right when she says she can't cope, as she simply is not looking after herself.Almost immediately there is loud knocking on the door (the door of the actual, intimate venue) and repeated buzzer pressing. A woman demands entry and we find out that it's Ros, Jack's new partner. Although initially here to rat out the truth about Judith's questionable pregnancy and how it might impinge on her own, a cautious rapport slowly builds between the pair.The exchanges between the two become less fraught with tension as they warm up and naturally begin to share, noting their own tendencies toward dwelling on past mistakes and not getting over them, while ‘men invariably do’.What we see here are two contrasting characters linked in time and space by one man, and typically they're going to bond over the experience, blaming various things for their hardships, despite brave assertion that ‘You don't fall in love, you jump: it's suicide.’Much humming, 'hmmm' laughter is elicited from the predominantly female audience, reflecting the play's sympathetic subject matter. Genuine care is shown as Ros seeks to help Judith, offering tea and a quick tidy of the flat, culminating in the symbolic washing out of the henna in the living room. Judith can start afresh.The piece is darkly comic, with henna as the female link; the application thereof is declared to be a traditional female bonding experience. As the drama piece finishes, Ros' suggestion of an unrealistic show of solidarity meets a satisfyingly solid rebuttal from Judith, who finally takes control. This play is most definitely one for the girls, a chick-stück. It gives an interesting glance at the position of the adulteress as well as the adulteree, but is overall just 'nice'.

Reviews by Fen Greatley

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The Blurb

Facing Dawn Theatre Company presents Henna Night, an 'entertaining and wickedly perceptive' (Lynn Gardner) look at what happens when two women are confined in a small space with a packet of henna and some razor blades...

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