A Dark Night in Dalston Review

Joe Coen and Michelle Collins in A Dark Night In Dalston at Park Theatre. Photo by Helen Murray 25If you have ever wondered where actors go to enjoy the work of someone other than themselves, then wonder no more.  As it transpires, Park Theatre in Finsbury Park is what we might call a safe haven for those true thespians residing here in London. Upon entrance to the venue, fronted by the Park Theatre Café Bar, you will find yourself surrounded by people whom you know are truly creative even upon first glance; individuals whom are intent on appreciating the magnificence that the arts offer.

Michelle Collins in A Dark Night In Dalston at Park Theatre. Photo by Helen Murray 22

In this space, just a stone throw from Finsbury Park Station, many such individuals gathered once more for the latest theatrical offering from playwright Stewart Permutt, entitled A Dark Night in Dalston. Directed by Tim Stark and starring Michelle Collins and Joe Coen, the play is described as a dark comedy however, as Stark notes in the play’s programme, ‘comedy is very bleak and quite twisted. I think we see ourselves through comedy much more than we see ourselves through drama. I think all drama is funny. It is what you would call the madness of the human condition.’ And madness is certainly delivered, which is expected when the audience are invited into the world of just one or two characters, real or imagined, in such an intimate space as the theatre.

Michelle Collins and Joe Coen in A Dark Night In Dalston at Park Theatre. Photo by Helen Murray 1

As the story of Gina, a kind-hearted, middle-aged bubbly east-ender and her encounter with Gideon, a young Jewish city worker unfolds, the audience is invited to reflect on the themes of love, compassion, community, religion and the human mind. Simultaneously, you cannot help but laugh out loud at the frank and commonplace exchange of cultures between the two leads. Perhaps as intended, the viewer thinks of nothing but what they might have said or asked when faced with the cultural nuances of another individual.

The entire piece, set in Gina’s Dalston council flat living room, commences on a Friday evening when Gideon is attacked and former nurse Gina takes him in to provide aide. By the time things have wrapped up, after a series of revelations and events, it’s Saturday morning and everyone in the room (Gina’s and the Park Theatre’s) is left with that pit-of-your-stomach regretful feeling that crops up when you’ve said or done something outside of your comfort zone because hard liquor was involved. Although in this duo’s instance, the said and done is somewhat unbelievable, possible but unbelievable.

Joe Coen in A Dark Night In Dalston at Park Theatre. Photo by Helen Murray 15

Together, Collins and Coen command attention for their characters, through a combination of their portrayal but also from the intimacy of the theatre itself. In unison with Perwutt’s story and Stark’s direction, they offer an alternate ending to the cultural exchanges that take place everyday in London.

For an alternate evening in Finsbury Park, don’t look past the Park Theatre. Enjoy the artistic culinary space (dominated by a large scale chalk drawing of Michelle Collins) and then venture on to discover just what happens in Dalston.

Reporter: Hayley Middleton

Venue: PARK90

Production run: 7 Mar – 1 Apr

Run time: 75 minutes approx.

Age Restriction: 16+

Address: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP

Tube: Finsbury Park (Station Place Exit)

Directions: Exit left out of Station Place then left and under the bridge. Then second left onto Morris Place, Park Theatre is at the end.