Moonlight After Midnight, a hit from last year’s Fringe Festival, makes their Next Stage Theatre Festival return this year. This enigmatic tale involving a close encounter in a dark hotel room blends and blurs the barriers of time, reality and linear story telling for one captivating tale.
Moonlight After Midnight derives its shape from a series of vignettes that at first glance seem entirely unrelated until you notice the little veins that run throughout from a comet in the sky to a late night swim. Vanessa Quesnelle and Martin Dockery (who both serve as dramaturg and writer respectively) play the nameless couple whose encounter in that dark hotel room serves as a catalyst that morphs and transforms their relationship into something far different from how they begin. Keeping pace with their rapid fire dialogue is an exercise in concentration — it’s not hard to get lost in the trajectory of it.
It’s clear that Quesnelle and Dockery have worked together in two-hander shows for quite some time as their chemistry, though muted and restrained at times, is palpable. They are able to play off each other with fluidity and ease. I did find myself particularly drawn to Dockery’s performance — there’s something about him, in particular his resistance followed by his his desperation, that I found particularly magnetic.
The staging for Moonlight After Midnight is minimal in the best possible way. Not much is needed to stage this production as though the scenes may change, the setting, in essence, stays the same. I liked the inclusion of music — Quesnelle’s own voice — as a means of interlude to serve as transitions between scenes.
Some of my favorite movies are ones that throw the idea of completely linear time out the window and Moonlight After Midnight manages to do exactly that. It’s the type of production that is there to leave you contemplating it for hours to come. Where do certain parts fit together, which parts exist in their reality and which are a construct of fantasy, who are these people and what happened to them. The blurb on both the website and in the program are deliberately vague as these are questions that are not meant to have solid answers.
- All Next Stage Theatre Festival performances are being held at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St.)
- Tickets for Mainstage and Studio shows are $15 and Ante-chamber performances are $10
- Showtimes and ticket information are available at fringetoronto.com/next-stage-festival/
Photo of Vanessa Quesnelle and Martin Dockery by Will Ohare