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In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises) review at Gate Theatre – ‘confrontational’

Alex Waldmann and Adelle Leonce in In the Night Time (Before The Sun Rises) at Gate Theatre, London Photo: Bill Knight Alex Waldmann and Adelle Leonce in In the Night Time (Before The Sun Rises) at Gate Theatre, London Photo: Bill Knight

There is nothing that can turn the domestic into the apocalyptic faster than the unrelenting sound of a baby crying. It has the ability to tear down walls and pierce even the deepest thoughts. At least that’s what Nina Segal’s debut play In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises) would have you think.

Broadly speaking, it is about a young couple with a small child that won’t stop crying. At just an hour, it takes a slice out of the night – “proper middle-of-the-night night time” – when both parents are overburdened with lack of sleep or solace.

The arrival of a baby (via Amazon no less) has turned Man and Woman inside out. What was previously their life now belongs to another, who they are responsible for bringing into the world.

Exhaustion sets in with thundering predictability but one of the joys of Segal’s witty text, and more generally of Ben Kidd’s production, is its ability to stretch beyond the domestic into the deep-rooted fears at the heart of society.

As the child cries, its screams turn to sirens, its small pink head pulses with almost radioactive light – the sound and lighting in particular are incredibly well-realised. Everything falls away and a monstrous, shitty truth, masquerading as absurdity, takes charge. The familial and the horrific are so tightly wrapped here that they begin squeeze the life out of each other, but Segal’s play is a resilient one.

As the couple, Adelle Leonce moves between vulnerable and visceral in her performance, while Alex Waldmann displays something more openly conflicted as he tries to get to grips with their shared experience.

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Witty, bold and confrontational debut play which is as smart and funny as it is provocative