"Great energy and admirable stage craft"Photo/ Laura Moss

Long Nights In Paradise certainly was a long night, starting at 11 in the ADC late slot and running for nearly two hours. An engaging student script, driven by clever direction and electrically intense performances, Long Nights In Paradise is an exhausting piece of theatre in the best possible way.

The play is a new work from Theo Collins and Miles Molan, directed by Collins himself and Laura Moss, Long Nights In Paradise is part personal tragedy, part social commentary. The play manages to pull the two together in the figure of its central character Scott – played by Jack Medlin. Scott is at once sympathetic and detestable, and seems to be aware that he is both. That aspect of self-awareness makes Scott an intriguing figure: a character whose machismo is stripped away into vulnerability and a vulnerability which itself melts away to reveal an instinct for survival which the audience is led to find repulsive. His charisma compels the audience’s attention even when he is at his most morally repugnant. Medlin’s execution of the character was brilliant; the fact that the character was well suited to his skills as an actor does not detract from the strength of the performance of this character which demanded deep reserves of emotional versatility and stamina. I lost count of the number of times Scott was beaten up or otherwise attacked – at one point having a bottle of Bud Light emptied over his head – the pain evident in Medlin’s physical performance each time.

“His charisma compels the audience’s attention even when he is at his most morally repugnant”

It was more difficult for the supporting performances to really stand out alongside Medlin in a play which was primarily focussed on Scott. However, Fuschia Webb, making her debut on the ADC stage, was wonderfully sympathetic as Scott’s wife Liz. Liz only appears in recollections and hallucinations, lending her an ethereal presence as she slipped on and off stage. Her presence was initially playful and calm – jokingly refusing to eat curry in bed and making tea – and yet at other times was heartrending as a severely depressed wife who Scott neglects, and occasionally very unsettling as a ghost of the past which Scott cannot escape. Though the character is written to be somewhat one-dimensional – a woman defined entirely in relation to the male lead of the play – this did not inhibit Webb from bringing great emotional force in Liz’s scenes.

“They deserve praise for being unapologetically angry at the political status quo”

The social commentary of the play is rightly angry, and that anger is re-articulated by Scott through the play. It rings out in outright political clarion calls to action, in slightly odd theological musings, and perhaps most effectively, in a direct address to the audience. Scott outright demands that we consider whether we came to see a play about a homeless man who does something wrong just to feel good about standing in judgement over others. The play asks if its own audience is really just seeking some cathartic poverty porn from their comfortable position, which is an excellent refusal by the writers to allow the audience to feel good in the face of the human suffering in the play. Collins and Molan pull a neat trick in the denouement of the play in unpicking many of the assumptions made about Scott and his ‘journey’ through the play – his selfish streak endures through the depths of despair he suffers. They deserve praise for being unapologetically angry at the political status quo, whilst managing not to make a pure and perfect martyr out of Scott.


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Collins and Molan did not write an easy script for direction – Long Nights In Paradise moves between temporal space at alarming speed and, I imagine, took a great deal of physical rehearsing. However, Collins and Laura Moss have brought the script to life with great energy and admirable stagecraft. The transitions between time and place were near seamless and the non-naturalistic movement was one of the productions great strengths. Long Nights In Paradise is a shining example of how clever, insightful direction can lift a student script into being an excellent play. Running at high intensity until nearly one in the morning, Long Nights In Paradise is not for the faint of heart, but well worth the effort.

Long Nights In Paradise runs until 12th of February at the ADC Theatre.