Any Night

Dates and Venue 6 - 17 October 2009, 8pm (Matinees Oct 10 & 17 @ 2pm) | Vancity Culture Lab, 1895 Venables Street

Written and performed by Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn, Directed by Ron Jenkins

Reviewer Roger Wayne Eberle

We have probably all heard that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but this pithy aphorism has rarely been as vividly fleshed out as it is in the Dual Minds Production of Any Night, playing until October 17 at the Cultch. Written and performed by the award-winning creative team of Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn, Any Night is a taut psychological thriller: part eerie dreamlike stream-of-consciousness reverie, part fast-paced contemporary drama, part all-in high stakes edgy mind trip. Sleep itself awakens to slumber on with formidable energy and all the charismatic intensity that movement coach Laura Krewski so ably invested in this performance—movement Medina Hahn wonderfully executes as the sleepwalking and dancing Anna.

In a powder keg of paradox, Anna finds herself drawn inexorably into a romantic entanglement with Patrick who lives in the flat above her and somehow knows her better than even her Tarot card reader knows her ultimate destination. The audience is never quite sure of exactly how Patrick’s knowledge of her is acquired because of the delicious ambiguities worked into this cleverly contrived script. Intimacy has a head on collision with privacy as Patrick and Anna bond, bend together and break apart in a series of energetic encounters, and in the ensuing consummately-crafted carnage, a free-floating sense of paranoia oozes through the plot like the moody fog blanketing the stage prior to the play’s opening scene.

As Anna struggles with having just left her boyfriend, she is haunted the by the frightening implications of psychic predictions of impending deaths and tormented by gnawing doubts about her living arrangements. She grows increasingly nervous as she ponders the emotional implications of finding her suite bugged by someone for whom she develops an affection, all the while dealing with traumatic bereavement issues. There are moments of sheer madness, and there are flashes of neon brilliance. Sweetness and warmth follows fear and remorse in a relentless display of raw intensity. Dance and wild embrace catapult with moving and gut-wrenching precision.

Impressive technical finesse showcases Gordon Heal’s vivid sound design; a clever use of a single bed and a moveable staircase accentuate Peter Pokorny’s clever minimalist set design; and the varied tempo of the presentation which never loses its fine edge throughout highlights the actors’ strengths as moulded under the expert directorial presence of Betty Mitchell Award winner Ron Jenkins.

Personal show-stopping favourites include the evening Patrick and Anna spend at the Greek Restaurant with its mood-lifting lip-syncing performance of Annie Lennox’s Sweet Dreams. Painting an expressive and memorable verbal portrait of what her favourite day and its happy ending would be like, Medina Hahn’s delightfully endearing Anna captures well the fragile tenderness and manic intensity of an emerging dancer whose hold on reality is rapidly slipping into nebulous nether regions. As Patrick, her “techno-stalker”, Daniel Arnold manages to convey a wide array of convincing emotions: he is by turns ingratiating, endearing, intimidating and menacing, trusting, disloyal and frighteningly disarming.

From the unassumingly sombre opening to the surprisingly startling conclusion, this disquieting drama manages to be both engaging and disconcerting through all of its many levels. Actors frequently breathe life into their roles, but there are much more poignant symbolic connotations that adhere to the device of breath as Medina Hahn’s Anna uses it in Any Night. Every theatre goer will take something different from this resonant play, but I got a shivery tinge of Every Breath You Take, the classic rock stalker song by the Police. See Any Night for yourself and you’re sure to have Sweet Dreams on your mind—among other things.

© 2009 Roger Wayne Eberle