Night Heron

If you've ever been anywhere near the Fens you'll probably have realised that they're fucking mental, but if unlike me you haven't visited Spalding's Springfields Centre for a fun day out then Jez Butterworth's The Night Heron will serve as an equally adequate introduction. A dark comedy which gets full marks for both darkness and comedy, it opens with two unemployed gardeners in a hovel-like house in the middle of nowhere, and closes with a kidnapped student sprawled naked over a chair. In-between there's fervent religious cults, suspicions of witchcraft, simmering violence and incongruous poetry recitals. This is East Anglia. We get bored.The acting is mostly excellent, a lot more human and naturalistic than I've seen in more classical productions from director Will Maynard – Rob Hoare Nairne as Wattmore has the perfect blend of reserved shyness and intense fear, his diction as fussily clean as Jacob Lloyd's as Griffin is rough and angry; though at times, particularly earlier on, I felt Lloyd could have been rougher still around the edges. Kate Lewin is absolutely stunning as Bolla, a scenery-chewing ex-con with occasional glimpses of pathos and deep-seated insecurity, her deep London voice perfectly matched to the character's bullish, Pinteresque disruption of this fragile household unit. A couple of smaller parts, Royce and Fowler, paled in comparison to the virtuosity of these three leads and could have done with a clearer sense of character in their brief periods onstage.The writing is impeccable, hardly surprising given Butterworth's recent smash-hit with Jerusalem – themes, images and hilarious knife-twisting flashpoints of dialogue rise suddenly and fall away, like half-glimpsed figures in the ever-present mist.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

'The Night Heron' is a twisting, dark psychological drama from Olivier award-winning playwright Jez Butterworth. A passing stranger joins two outcasts in their freezing Fenland shack in this premiere of Butterworth's newly revised text.