After several months of covering every detail of Megan Markle’s private life, tabloid journalist Carter (Aoife Lennon) is assigned to a much more compelling story, the return from Syria of a teenage jihadi bride. Looking for a clickbait column, she decides to get in touch with British veteran Kane (Nicholas Boulton), who is currently facing trial for a breach of human rights in an Iraqi prison. Back from the Middle East, Kane is now running a militaria shop, living a secluded life and unwilling to talk about his time in the Gulf.
Carter insists on getting from him a statement against the jihadi bride but is instead confronted with a heated conversation on the ethical implications of cruelty and whether perpetrating violence is ever fair. Meanwhile, recurrent flashbacks take us to the days when the journalist met fellow reporter James Foley, who was giving a lecture on how to survive kidnapping in a warzone. He purported the necessity to be as close as possible to the action in order to discover the truth, methods that Carter questioned as being reckless. Foley was later beheaded by a cell of ISIS rebels and the video of his execution posted on YouTube.
Despite Kane revealing increasingly disturbing details of his experience, the journalist is adamant to justify his actions as a necessary approach to a lesser civilised society. Moved by an understandable thirst for revenge, she unconditionally takes his side, although he’s much more critical of his own past.
Boulton’s charismatic presence on stage confers structure to this two-hander in which Lennon, regardless of having more lines, feels like a supporting act. Naylor’s distinctively blunt writing style has attracted widespread critical acclaim, both nationally and internationally. His Arabian Nightmares series – of which The Nights is part – has been translated into ten languages.
Timely and thought-provoking, The Nights uses also a touch of magical realism to address a multifaceted conflict between East and West which couldn’t stand further from being resolved.
Written by: Henry Naylor
Produced by: Gilded Balloon and Redbeard Theatre in Assoc. with Holden Street Theatres
Booking Link: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/the-nights-by-henry-naylor-af2020
Booking Until: 15 March 2020