Silent Night

Aug 16 2022 | By More

★★★★☆     Warming

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241): Mon 15 – Sat 20 Aug 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

Silent Night, from Arkle at the Royal Scots Club for one week only, is a cheering and beautifully assembled production.

The first thing that has to be said is that John and Mary Crowther’s play bears absolutely no resemblance to Camille Griffin’s recent ‘apocalyptic comedy’ of the same name. Although set during World War II, and dealing largely with death, this is a gently, whimsically absurd domestic comedy.

Zander Nisbet, Mark Anderson, Wendy Brindle and Alison Porter in Silent Night. Pic: Arkle.

A bomb hits a family’s Anderson shelter during the Manchester Christmas Blitz of 1940, and all available evidence shows that the direct hit has killed them and they are waiting for St Peter.

Plays that can be described as ‘heart-warming’ are more likely to have an emetic effect on many, but there is something genuinely cheering about this. The family are portrayed as a likeable, but obviously flawed bunch, and director Judith Walker has created an intimate feeling that leads us to believe that we are watching a genuine family unit.

Mark Anderson gives frustrated father Wilf a grounded reality, and there is a touching element as well as a frosty one to his relationship with wife Rose (Wendy Brindle). Brindle’s performance as a woman closed off by early experiences, and incapable of expressing emotion, is an extremely fine one.

rounded, sympathetic figures

Their children are Lily, disappointed by life and the object of malicious gossip, and the otherworldly teenager Jack. Alison Porter and Zander Nisbet make them rounded, sympathetic figures, and there is a rhythm and flow to the family’s interactions that is utterly engrossing.

Rob Mackean’s cameo is also very pleasing, and it would be unfair to say exactly who he is playing.

Not everything convinces utterly. This is largely the fault of a play that paints itself into a corner so completely it is never going to be able to get out of it elegantly. There is the odd less secure moment, but nothing to detract from the overall effect.

The Hepburn Suite at the Royal Scots Club is about as far removed from an air-raid shelter ankle deep in water as it is possible to get. Accordingly, it is testament to the cast, Walker, the sound of Craig Robertson and Rob Shields, and the magnificent lighting of John Weitzen, that this is so convincing.

Running time: 55 minutes (no interval)
The Royal Scots Club (Hepburn Suite), 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE (Venue 241)
Monday 15 – Saturday 20 August 2022
Daily: 18:30
Tickets and details: Book here

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