Blink and you'll miss it. Well actually, you've already missed it. The criminally short staged run of Russell T Davies' Midnight has already been and gone, with the last performance, added by public demand, taking place on Sunday 9th January 2012.
If you are familiar with all things Whovian, Midnight will already be familiar to you. Additionally, you will probably understand that this is one of the few Davies' Who scripts that transfers especially well to the stage, given its claustrophobic feel and swing-your-cat set.
Given all of this, The Salmon Room at The Lass O'Gowrie would seem to be the perfect place for a theatrical performance of an already powerful script as it seats an audience of thirty, if those onlookers don't mind the squeeze.
But a live, in your face, do-it-in-one-take version of Midnight brings its own unique set of potential pitfalls. For starters, the script is littered with some very physical demands of its players. Despite the inarguable excellence in the written word, the cast are nonetheless thrown about like ragdolls on occasion, which is no mean feat in such a confined space.
Add to this the very nature of the script itself, where each and every member of the cast has, on occasion, the responsibility of not only knowing their lines, but delivering them both convincingly, and in fine-tuned, measured unison.
Minus the television episodes' opening and final scenes, this is Russell T Davies' script in entirety, minus one caveat, that being the use of the word 'Who', neatly sidestepping any copyright infringement that may be laid at the production door by the BBC.
The performance does not dwell on or suffer for it, however, and even on occasion, benefits from its obvious deletion, drawing a wry chuckle from those in the audience most familiar with the material.
As for the players themselves, they all excel, relishing a tight, tidy and forceful script and seem to delight in its telling. Mike Woodhead (Dr John Smith) makes John Smith's character his own, seeming to fall somewhere between Baker and Tennant in intensity, if not in attire, which seems to this viewer somewhat understated. Woodhead bounces moods from peril to humour and back again with ease, heightening the tension where necessary and leading the troupe confidently when required.
Zoe Matthews (Sky Sylvestry) performance is often riveting and at times the viewer is unable to look away from her. Hers is probably the most demanding performance of all, having first to repeat and then mimic in unison, all of the characters lines. As mentioned above, this is something of a challenge. Not only does this requires a huge commitment to the script, but also unparalleled levels of confidence in the rest of the cast, to deliver their own lines correctly and at the right speed. With only one take to achieve it, the success of this highlights the excellence of all involved.
Jane Bancroft (The Hostess) is charming, assured and totally in character from before the performance even begins, welcoming the audience members and directing them to their seats, before inviting the cast of characters to join the fray. She delivers probably the most comedy throughout the script, delivering those lines with excellent timing and inflection. Not to say, however, that her role is just comic. Her moments of fear, loathing and outright terror, particularly at the end of the performance, are equally mesmerising.
Paida Noel, Natalie Husdan, Matt Aistrup, Phil Dennison and Lass O'Gowrie virgin Michael Loftus complete the cast of passengers on the giant space truck and provide ample support, each with their own deserved moments in the spotlight. The whole cast deserve hearty slaps on their backs for the effort and commitment that have clearly gone into this production, which is often brimming with tension that can almost be touched in the overbearing confines of the space they are afforded.
An immensely immersive experience wedged into forty-five minutes that literally zipped by, expertly crafted and directed by Brainne Edge, often leaving the audience short of breath, such was the intensity of its delivery. This production goes some way to prove that there is a wealth of talent in the north-west fringe that deserves to be recognised on a (literally) larger stage.