"Whilst there are political themes in there for sure, it’s not a political play: that’s the point"Illustration: Ross Kelly

Content Note: This article contains discussions of the Grenfell Tower fire, homelessness and other themes that some readers may find troubling

Before next week’s ADC late-show makes its debut, I sat down with Laura Moss, undergraduate student and Co-Director of Long Nights in Paradise, who might I add, looked remarkably un-frazzled, for a director five days away from their show’s opening night…

LB: So, my first question is: what drew you to the show?

LM: Well, I have been familiar with the show for quite a while because Theo [Collins] is one of my really close friends and he wrote it with a friend of his – Miles Molan – so, I was reading drafts of the script, getting to understand the story and the background of it, and it just wasn’t… ‘It’s not like other plays!’ [she laughs], but it’s really not! I think there’s something really important about having a protagonist who isn’t inherently likeable (the protagonist being ‘Scott’).

I think one of the points that the play is trying to make is that we don’t have to like him [Scott] but we are trying to humanise him. He doesn’t always make fantastic decisions, but ultimately what happens to him could essentially happen to anyone. His life kind of falls apart and is sort of a chain of events that end up leaving him homeless and widowed, and [the play] kind of puts morality into question, because it really draws away from that rigid sense of ‘right or wrong’.

“He finds himself not only seeing but existing in this other side of London”

Whilst there are political themes in there for sure, it’s not a political play: that’s the point. It is set against the background of 2017 London in the summer, so the time of the Grenfell Tower fire and, essentially, Scott uses the benefits system, meant for those who lost their homes in the fire, in order to get rehoused himself when he is made homeless. That brings in this massive question about what the difference is between the deserving and the undeserving.

LB: Without too many spoilers, would you be able to summarise what Long Nights in Paradise is about in a little more detail?

From left to right: Jack Medlin (Scott) and Dominica Wiatrowska (Adara)Laura Moss

LM: Yeah, so essentially Scott is very much the protagonist, completely and totally. So, where Scott’s story starts, he’s pretty well off, he’s got a comfortable job in the city, he’s got a nice flat, he’s married: he’s happy. He’s got this kind of comfortable, middle-class London dream. And then very quickly, as I mentioned before, a series of unfortunate events happen. He finds himself not only seeing but existing in this other side of London: being homeless, being treated badly.

It’s important because you don’t often see that side of London in theatre; the side that’s not glamorous: it’s dark and sad and scary and you see things that aren’t appealing. That’s what we are really trying to bring to the show: something people haven’t seen before.

LB: Its always so exciting to see shows that have been written by students. Can you tell me anything about the writers’ process?

LM: It took a very long time, it was co- written by Theo Collins [undergraduate student at Kings] and Miles Molan.

“I think the play is very much about the fragility of life”

As far as I know, it was a true story in the news, people pretended they had lived in Grenfell – that was factually true. Scott’s story is based on a real person- who I believe was taken to court and jailed for two years after - and that was something that really struck them [the writers]. And I think it goes back to that question of why his homelessness is not considered as ‘deserving’ as someone else’s. But it’s not only about that, the play is also about how quickly things can change. One second, he has everything and then something happens, and it’s all gone. Scott isn’t really supported, the people around him slowly fall away. I think the play is very much about the fragility of life, that’s where I imagine a lot of the inspiration came from.

LB: What can you tell me about the directing process and working with the cast? How have you found that?

From left to right: Jack Medlin (Scott), Fuschia Webb (Elizabeth), Maria Telinkoff, Will Leckie and Theo CollinsLaura Moss

LM: I’ve loved it! We are very lucky, in that we have such an amazing and dedicated cast: very talented. We did good casting! Obviously, there has been a lot of difficulties with COVID-19, but everyone has responded so well and so fantastically. Everyone is so committed and dedicated and I think in part that is because this is such an important story to tell. You can’t help but be dedicated to the script.

LB: You clearly feel very connected to the script. Do you have a favourite character in the play?


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LM: This is so difficult, it’s interesting what I said earlier about Scott not necessarily being a desirable protagonist, he’s not someone you could easily fall in love with; he’s complex, and he’s messy and he’s affected by life, but there is something about him that I love, it is much easier to sympathise and emphasise with him, maybe because you see him go through such hardships and difficulty. I guess because through directing you have to get to know the characters really well, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the character a little bit.

LB: Finally in three words how would you describe Long Nights in Paradise?

LM: Heart-breaking. Responsive. Important.

From speaking to Laura it's clear that plenty of 'long nights' have gone into preparing for next week's ADC late-show, which promises to be a 'paradise' of acting talent, and I, for one, can't wait to watch this play come to life.

Long Nights in Paradise runs at the ADC Theatre at 11pm from Wednesday 9th Feb- Saturday the 12th Feb