There’s a lot packed in to Long Nights in Paradise, probably too much, but it still makes for an interesting story that explores the ups and downs of life, the building and disintegration of relationships and how quickly people’s lives can dramatically and sometimes tragically change by an event or a stroke of misfortune.
Heart-rending but with elements of hope
Scott Cooper enjoys a very comfortable middle-class life. He has the job, the flat and the family that all make for security. But that setting is only the background to this story. In a series of misfortunes all of those are swept away and he goes from the high-life of his apartment to the low-life of the street. It’s the first of several chilling ‘if only’ episodes and exposes the fragility of our existence, vulnerability to external forces and the dreadful sacrifices that people are sometimes called upon to make.
In his uncomfortable new world he meets others who have their own stories to tell and that become entwined with his. Not least the young woman who loves to dance who is a resident in the Grenfell Tower. Soon the play becomes not just one man’s story but a social commentary on housing, homelessness, crime, social responsibility and politics. The multimedia elements of the production with projections onto the white backdrop focus on some of these and serve to reflect his inner turmoil and also provide settings for the story and visuals for events such as the Grenfell fire.
The man manages to hold on to his memories, if nothing else, and there are some moving moments when he relives the joys he has known in flashbacks. But is he also a flawed person with an unsavoury streak running through him that persists in all circumstances or is he a redeemable character who will one day sufficiently examine and reassess his life in a way that will place him on the road to salvation?
Long Nights in Paradise is an ambitious work, with a lot going on. It is often heart-rending but with elements of hope. The breadth of the material and issues raised at all levels not surprisingly serve to give it broad appeal.