Henry Naylor has been doing this for a while – writing swift, short plays about geo-political topics and putting them on at Gilded Balloon Teviot, where they invariably sell out. They’re always well-researched. They’re always tightly structured. They always have a point. But they’re increasingly boring.
This year’s – The Nights – is a two-hander, and a semi-sequel to Naylor’s 2014 hit The Collector. It sees Carter, a young reporter at an unspecified right-wing newspaper, confront Captain Kane, a retired army officer with a murky past. Shamima Begum has just been found, and Carter wants an incendiary comment from an ex-soldier.
Naylor’s always an ambitious writer. His plays have serious scope, and The Nights is no different. As the story develops, and Carter gets closer to uncovering the truth about Kane, Naylor raises several compelling questions about justice, the war on terror, how violence begets violence, and how the press often fuels the fire.
But he raises them fairly bluntly, fairly inelegantly. There are great unwieldy chunks of monologue, and his script strains for lyricism and misses by a mile.
Louise Skaaning’s production for Redbeard Theatre features two impassioned performances from Caitlin Thorburn and Naylor himself, but ultimately gets bogged down by overly weighty writing.