The Noctambulist

This is a rock-solid, totally refreshing naturalist drama performed by outstanding actors.

Would-be writers and actors are often advised not to give up their day jobs. For this remarkable team the opposite is true. Stop whatever else you are doing and give us more first class plays and performances.

The Noctambulist is the first original production from Raving Mask, formed out of Durham University Theatre. It is written and directed by Joe Skelton. Skelton’s writing is what every actor dreams of. He has devised an intriguing but simple plot, created clearly defined characters and fashioned dialogue that is fast-moving and witty, yet firmly grounded in everyday conversation that flows with consummate ease.

The play raises some issues about what to do with a good education and what sort of impact you can have on the world, but you don’t have to trouble yourself with them. There are no hidden meanings or profound messages in this play. You can simply sit back and enjoy it.

Albert has superhero fantasies combined with terrorist inclinations, which he would act upon if he were not something of a couch-potato by day and a sleep-walker by night. He survives on the extended hospitality of his friends Brian and Sarah, but his insistence on doing nothing that produces any income causes the domestic situation to explode. The catalyst is Franny, who brings a delivery of fruit and veg to the house. Through her he sees salvation and discovers pomegranates.

One of the many joys of this production is to hear actors with crystal clear diction and impeccable timing, who understand the power of the pause: that moment of silence, combined with a look that speaks volumes keeps the audience hanging on, knowing that another stunning line is on its way.

Alexander Drury (Albert) creates an endearing character who must be a pain to live with. He brings out the frustrations of a man whose ideas his housemates don’t take seriously, giving a performance of quick-fired wit that has an underlying sadness. His outwardly bright personality and cheeky smile is perfectly contrasted with that of the deadpan contribution made by Theo Harrison (Brian). In his moments of stunned silence, as he is confronted by increasingly outrageous remarks and situations, Theo has the amazing ability to show you the wheels going round in head. Thoughts are rarely conveyed with such accomplishment.

Lily Morgan (Sarah) exercises a controlling, no-nonsense presence in the household. Her performance illustrates perfectly how not to suffer fools gladly and she gives some looks that could turn someone to stone. After each exit I waited eagerly for her return knowing she would deliver some devastating lines with perfect accuracy. Hebe Beardsall (Franny) plays the shy, rather insecure purveyor of fruit and veg. She encapsulates the reticence of her character through a soft, innocent voice that perfectly contrasts with the brashness of her colleagues. Her sensitive portrayal accomplishes a smooth transition in her relationship with Albert from initial awkwardness to subtle affection, but her discomfort remains in the presence of the rest of the household.

Would-be writers and actors are often advised not to give up their day jobs. For this remarkable team the opposite is true. Stop whatever else you are doing and give us more first class plays and performances.

Reviews by Richard Beck

PRINT ROOM at THE CORONET

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Albert is a lay about waster scrounging off his friends. By day he does nothing but sit around, thinking up ideas of how to change the world - at night he sleepwalks. Then a girl appears at the door with a delivery of fruit and veg, offering salvation and pomegranates. 'Truly outstanding' (Dur.ac.uk/dst/firstnight). Winner: Best New Writing, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor, Durham Drama Festival 2014.