Night Light

Platform, The Bridge, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

four stars

THE hands of the clock say it’s time for bed and Mr Night is getting ready for work. He’s released the moon from inside the clock, and now it’s glowing on a lamp stand while he surveys the city, checking that people are asleep. The city is, in fact, a wonderfully cluttered room crammed with eccentric furniture that takes on the guise of little houses and tower blocks simply because Andy Manley (as Mr Night) makes it so, in a performance of beguilingly tender whimsicality.

Manley’s gift for refreshing our perceptions of everyday objects is well to the fore here, and totally in tune with the way young audiences – recommended age range is 3 to 6 – bring their own imagination into play. A teensy chest of drawers becomes a block of flats inhabited by fractious, wailing babies. Household cutlery goes on a shakin’, rattlin’ after-dark randan – because everyone’s asleep, and unaware of what objects get up to in those midnight hours.

There is, however, one rebellious little girl who’s wide awake. We don’t exactly see her, but we hear her, giggling and crowing with delight, as Mr Night tours her around the secrets and surprises of Mariann Aagaard’s wonderfully cunning set. And though Manley’s collaboration with Danish company Teater Refleksion is ostensibly about the dark, it’s light that brings mystery and magic to this nocturnal adventure across a miniaturised city-scape. Under Bjarne Sandborg’s direction, the attention to detail – whether it’s in the lighting design, the sound and technical effects or the music – goes the extra creative mile, here. It’s an exquisite, captivating instance of children’s theatre at its best.

Part of the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, running this week (May 29 - June 4).