Get our free email newsletter with just one click

That Night Follows Day review at Southbank Centre – ‘Forced Entertainment’s funny, spiky show’

The cast of That Night Follows Day at Southbank Centre. Photo: Hugo Glendinning The cast of That Night Follows Day at Southbank Centre. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
by -

Don’t kids just say the funniest things? Well, maybe not in Tim Etchells and Forced Entertainment’s show That Night Follows Day or if they do, it’s only because they are parroting the words of adults. 

Performed by a chorus of 17 eight to 14-year-olds from London, Etchells’ text is a litany of things that adults say to them, addressed to an adult audience: “You tell us that rules are rules”, “You ask us to explain memes”, “You teach us that 2 times 3 is 6”. It ranges from curriculum facts, to rules and restrictions of varying arbitrariness, to warnings about the dangers of the world.

Perspective shifts fluidly between that of the children (annoyance at being constantly filmed by their parents, for instance), and a more knowing voice (“You wonder if we’re going to pull through”). It’s here that you sense Etchells’ hand at work and the text is all too aware of the ironic gesture of an adult putting words into children’s mouths. Central here is the potency and danger of language – the way that it shapes, limits, indoctrinates and grants permission.

And although it is an inevitably lovely thing to watch children perform, the show has sharp edges – there is something unambiguously accusatory about the line that the children stand in at the front of the stage – a united front against the sea of adults sat in the dark – and the way that the (truly remarkable) performers attack the text, taking each phrase slowly, chewing over the words we have fed them and spitting them back out at us.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Forced Entertainment’s funny, spiky show performed by children, for adults.