Midnight Your Time at Donmar Warehouse Online
Midnight Your Time is directed by Michael Longhurst, streamed by the Donmar Warehouse via YouTube, and is available all of this week. Longhurst’s play is simple: it encapsulates a relationship between a mother and her daughter.
It’s 2010 and in her one-woman show, Judy – played by Diana Quick – is a retired lawyer looking to find things to occupy her time now that she finds herself with a much freer schedule. This includes joining a women’s league, involving herself in local politics and above all becoming overly interested in her daughter’s life and career choice. Quick carries out a half-an-hour monologue, filming herself recording videos to her daughter Helen, who is currently volunteering in Hebron, Palestine.
Longhurst directs Quick astutely in this sharp performance, which was written for her specifically by playwright Adam Brace. Quick travels along a rollercoaster of emotions in her many recorded videos; despite being ignored, she never gets a reciprocated recording from Helen. Quick sits, stands and reclines with her face invasively large on the screen, staring into the dark abyss with ranging looks of hope, fear and, at times, dismay at the unreturned calls.
This play will inevitably resonate with the wider nation at this time, as it looks at a virtual relationship. In this scenario, Judy and Helen are unable to see each other due to their geographical locations, however, Midnight Your Time moves further than this, flooding the production with meta elements. Quick films this all via her webcam whilst in isolation herself, so the audience watch someone else dealing with the challenges of communicating remotely. The comic moments keep the atmosphere light yet incredibly poignant. Quick records herself many times some evenings, as her anger and frustration get the better of her; this thought process is portrayed very well and so clearly.
The main conflict between Judy and Helen – falling out whilst together at Christmas – could have been unpacked more, as this is the sole premise surrounding why Helen doesn’t return her mother’s visual correspondence. Here, Brace uses this opportunity to show two worlds colliding: one of privilege and money and the poor, under-privileged world she feels her daughter has chosen. Yet, on the other hand, it leaves a haze of uncertainty, much like a digital call or message often does, leading to misinterpretation.
Above all this is a mother who is experiencing empty nest symptoms. Judy’s daughter, her sole obsession, is no longer at home and what’s worse, she cannot easily see her. Again, this is much like the experience audiences find themselves in – being unable to see loved ones. The collision between the real and theatrical worlds makes Midnight Your Time feel almost like a cathartic experience for viewers. We, in real time, take the same journey and range of emotions as Judy experiences towards her daughter.
Midnight Your Time is available to watch on the Donmar Warehouse’s YouTube channel from 13th May until 20th May 2020. For further information or to watch visit the theatre’s website here.