Henna Night at the Hen & Chickens Theatre
Helping to kick off the first week of the Camden Fringe Festival, Henna Night (a Pomp House production) opens at the Hen & Chickens theatre this week. Written by Amy Rosenthal, this is a witty, hour-long emotional healing session, taking the same amount of time for Judith, portrayed by Laurie Delany, to get the required shade as she dyes her hair. Judith is unexpectedly disturbed in this venture by her ex’s new partner Rosalind, performed by Celine Abrahams, who arrives after hearing a desperate voicemail left by the other woman. This one-act play presents the upheaval of lives and emotions. It is just one of the 200 different acts playing in 22 different venues as part of the 11th Camden Fringe.
The set in the small theatre shows us a messy bedsit; a futon covered in clothes and papers. In her discomfort, Judith tidies, yet the room never fully becomes clean, demonstrating that despite the progress gained in both the room and her life, it is not the ultimate fix. Rosenthal’s take on life and loss is far more complex and realistic. This is a drama filled with frustrations, with an inability to see beyond one’s misery, a right to wallow and a right to happiness. The playwright has done a fantastic job of keeping both characters likeable: as their anger rebounds between them there is humour sharply cutting through. It is this, along with the effectively short and sweet length of the production, that keeps Henna Night from falling into bitter indulgence and makes it enthralling.
Under the direction of Antoinette Alexandrou, Delany and Abrahams give convincing performances. Delany delivers her lines with the gusto of self-righteousness, taking advantage of her spurned role, whilst Abraham’s ex-head girl, ordered and sensible teacher is rightly uptight when under fire and girlish when not, making her undeniably endearing. More than individual performances, the two women work incredibly well together, bouncing off each other on the simple stage, with modest lighting and sound, allowing the dialogue to be the focus of this play.
Sadly, last night, some of the more enrapturing moments, such as the silences (a testament to the acting), were somewhat ruined by noise, which cut through the intimacy of the play – but that is the nature of the small, over-the-pub theatre. But besides this, and one or two lines that fell flat, Henna Night is definitely worth watching.
Henna Night is at the Hen & Chickens Theatre from 1st until 7th of August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
For further information about the Camden Fringe Festival visit here.