There are some stage plays when you realise within the first few minutes of the opening scene that you really should have read the book ahead of watching it at the theatre.
Sarah Water’s The Night Watch – at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre this week until Saturday August 31 – is I am afraid one of those.
The international best selling author’s tome has been adapted for the stage by Olivier nominated Hattie Naylor and Eastbourne is the first stop of the touring production by the Original Theatre company.
Set in London in various parts of the 1940s, the play follows the loves and lives of people recovering from the chaos and heartache of the Second World War.
It stars Pheobe Pryce as Kay, Florence Roberts as Helen with Izabella Urbanowicz playing Julia and all are excellent with real stage presence.
The trouble is that two of them look so alike, it’s difficult at times to distinguish who is who. And while it keeps the reverse chronology of the book true to spirit, the play appears to jump from the Blitz and bombing raids to post war scenes with confusion.
In fairness, the show is very atmospheric and there are some stand alone performances especially Lewis MackKinnon’s hapless Duncan.
Critics who described it as moving, gripping, dramatically electrifying say they were choked up and blinking back tears at the end.
I was just confused. To the library I go......