Reviewed by Flossie Waite & Luke Billingham
Created by Andy Manley and Teater Refleksion
An Imaginate and Red Bridge co-production
Reviewed at Assembly Roxy as part of Edinburgh International Children’s Festival
For ages 3-6
Night Light is thoroughly charming, whilst still being intriguing and weird enough not to be too saccharine. Andy Manley is like the gentle mayor of night time – he’s a sort of Father Christmas/God-like figure in a smart suit, going about his nocturnal duties overseeing a slumbering city. In this piece of object theatre, the tower blocks and houses under his watch are the cupboards and closets which populate Father Night’s living room. And he’s got his hands full: in one drawer there’s a frequently crying baby, in another there’s the near-constant bleeping of a games console, and in a nearby box someone’s watching a film too scary for bedtime (and for him!) Though all these little people eventually settle down, Father Night’s work is not done – one of his charges, residing in the side table, refuses to be sleepy (the parents in the audience can no doubt empathise). So begins a quest to entertain – and tire out – this cheeky miniature friend, who dashes and scampers about the buildings, persuading Father Night to guide them on a special tour of the city after the night lights have all been blown out.
A couple of reviews suggest that the lack of interaction in Night Light is “problematic” for such young children (its aimed at 3-6 years). But this piece, a collaboration between Andy Manley and Teater Refleksion, works because of the ways in which it encourages the audience to engage imaginatively with what they’re watching. There are only tiny glimpses of the little people – a few small footsteps and some brief bursts of light: on the whole, they impact the world around them invisibly, with a closet door opening unaided here, a teacup spinning of its own accord there. Anders Kjems lighting design, Daniel Padden’s music and sound, Marian Aagaard’s set with Morten Meilvang Laursen’s technical design, and Manley’s performance come together to create just the right amount of suggestion, whilst leaving enough space for the audience to imaginatively fill the gaps, so that the result is, in the very truest sense of the word, magical.
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