Taken at Midnight is the horrific yet hopeful story of Hans Litten’s arrest by the Nazis, and the undying determination of a mother to succeed in releasing her son. The play, written by Mark Hayhurst, and put on by United Players of Vancouver, is a combination of gripping suspense, deep sorrow, humorous dialogue, and fleeting hope.
Under Michael Fera’s direction, the performance is true to the writing, allowing the complicated and poetic text to tell the story without muddling it up with unnecessary movements or blocking. With such dark subject matter, the story came through most effectively when there was little to embellish it with. Some of the most powerful moments were when Irmgard Litten (Suzanne Ristic) or Hans Litten (Sean Anthony) were speaking to the audience directly and straightforwardly, thereby allowing the text to do it’s work.
The pacing was overall consistent and usually nicely executed, although some scenes during the second act seemed to drop their pace a little bit, and as a result became somewhat dull. This may have been due to some of the actors who have had less experience. Overall, the actors had varying levels of skill and often, when some of them were thrown into scenes with tense moments and high stakes, the pace was dropped and moments became less believable. Some scenes had great pacing, while others fell flat.
The set, designed by Allyson Fournier, perfectly assisted in telling the story without distracting from it. The multiple levels of the set were especially powerful, particularly when they were used to show the power dynamics between the Nazis and their prisoners. The symmetry and theme of red also made for satisfying and powerful pictures on stage.
While Taken at Midnight had some minor issues with pacing, it still proved to effectively tell a difficult and complicated story. The gruesome and suspenseful moments, intertwined with moments of undying hope, made this piece balanced and thought provoking. It is the job of the theatre to bring stories like this to life, and Taken at Midnight did just that.
Taken at Midnight plays November 3-26|Location: Jericho Arts Centre|Tickets: $20-$26