Twilight Song at Park Theatre
The world premiere of Twilight Song, Kevin Elyot’s final play, sounded out like a nightingale’s song at Park Theatre: enchanting, sonorous, and darkly mysterious. Best known for My Night with Reg, the multi award-winning works by the playwright are seeing a resurgence on the stage in recent times, and with good reason.
Amidst the leafy comfort of a north London home on a dreary rainy day two men lazily discuss life. One man, an estate agent by the name of Skinner, asserts that life is all too transient and one must “live for the here and now”, whilst Barry, who lives at home with his mother, can be best represented by the word compromise: the dilapidated flat is in a prime location with an incomplete terrace out back; he is clever yet idle; his words still hold esteem, yet his outward persona is dull and resigned. Outrageously humorous and brimming with innuendo, this opening scene ends the play, a masterful twist by Elyot, allowing the entirety of the remaining theatre to unravel in an emotional and psychological whodunit mystery.
Twilight Song winds back in time to explore the origins of this family and how Barry came to be born. Mystery, tension, and a generous amount of sly humour mark its course, as we discover the relationship between Barry’s parents Basil and Isabella, an uncle, a family friend, and a ruggedly handsome gardener. Elyot does not limit himself with his story; what at first seems rather straightforward becomes ever more complex as the piece develops, and what originally seemed wholesome, like the family itself, is tarnished by desire and lust.
The outstanding cast, with expert direction from Anthony Banks, has an uncanny ability to speak without words, and move in stillness; the music seems not only to fill the blackouts, but resonates with its own meaning, struggling to break free of the small gramophone; and the expert writing ensures no lull in drama. Tension is the main ticket here, each scene holds some form of it, and the humour – which the play has in spades – comes from Elyot slowly resolving some of the tension whilst letting it build overall until the shocking final moment, and squeezing out laughs like only a master can, in the intricate observations of relationships and society.
Photo: Robert Workman
Twilight Song is at Park Theatre from 12th July until 12th August. For further information or to book visit here.