In search of an innovative performance to fulfill your theatre deprived Covid life? Look no further, “Late Night Staring at High Res Pixels” has got you covered. At the start of the pandemic, I never thought I would ever be satisfied until everything was back in-person, and I was sitting in my seat at the theatre, waiting for a show to commence. However, “Late Night” has completely changed my mind. The show dives into the issues of consent, complicity, and control towards women.
The performance consists of a combination of monologue and dialogue revolving around an unnamed man. Interestingly, the man is almost always the subject of conversation, but he is never seen. Instead, the audience is immersed in the perspectives of two women: 1 (the girlfriend/ Evelyn Lockley) and A (the friend/ Athena Stevens). The show starts with the man sharing 1’s topless photo with A (without consent). The toxic behavior and manipulation only spiral downhill from there.
Stevens’ play, directed by Lily McLeish, was initially meant for the stage but has been repurposed into 28 bite-size chunks for online viewing. The performance resembles a Netflix show, which draws you in, and suddenly you find yourself binging all 28 episodes in one sitting (at least if you’re anything like myself). The show vastly expanded my definition of theatre. A show does not necessarily have to be performed on a premium stage in front of an audience. “Late Night” demonstrates how theatre can be and is created right from one’s own living room and different areas of your home. Theatre and film blend as the use of camera angles becomes a critical part of this performance.
McLeish successfully directed the show with only one actor and the show’s lighting designer, Anthony Doran, ever being physically in the same room during filming process (the others were on zoom). The viewers get a thorough look into Stevens and Lockley’s separate homes and their wardrobes, out of which the designer, Anna Reid, composed the costumes. The show was filmed all on an iPad. Doran explains in the post-show Q &A how they had to get creative with the set-up and prop up the iPad using whatever available, ranging from anything from a stack of books to a pile of toilet paper!
“Late Night” does an exemplary job creating a sense of community during this difficult time of isolation. Statistics show that the pandemic has been very hard on relationships. Even moving beyond relationships, simply being a witness to someone else’s struggles, gives you a sense that you are not alone in these challenging times. At times it even feels as if the actors are talking directly to us like on a FaceTime call, creating a real intimate community bond.
Although the relationship between theatre and community is one of great contestation, “Late Night” demonstrates significant positive factors, which Emine Fisek touches on in her book, Theatre and Community. Fisek explains how community can be “a necessary strategy for enduring the alienating effects of modern life” (5). I think individuals have never felt as alienated as they do during Covid lockdowns, confined to the walls of their home, which is why this “crucial tool for survival in times of distress” is needed now more than ever (4).