Sultry and sweaty: In The Dead of Night @LandorTheatre
A sexy cast, terrific dancing and high drama make In The Dead of Night a fun, fascinating and classy take on the film noir thrillers of old Hollywood. The dialogue is clipped, the dancing is tight and the bodies are hot. So hot you can smell the sweat coming off them. Or it might be baby oil looking like sweat... The Landor Theatre is a pretty intimate space so sometimes nothing is left to the imagination.
In the Dead of Night is set in a dodgy South American shanty town at the end of the war, and everyone is on the take. The men work on the docks. The women sell their bodies. And if the men are up for it they sell their bodies too.
Even before the action starts, as you take your seats you feel as if you have been transported to a steamy, sordid little latin bar. The lights, the shadows and atmosphere set the tone for the next two hours.
Crime, corruption and cheap thrills are what keeps the town in business. Elvira, the local madam and owner of a cheap tequila bar keeps watch over everything. Like the best film noir pictures, it is pure melodrama and tragedy, but here the piece takes the conventions and smart talk up a notch, exploding into passion and sensual dancing that you would never see back in old Hollywood (at least not on screen).
It’s a clever mix of drama and dance by writer director Claudio Macor, choreographer Anthony Whitman and music by Paul Boyd. There are some memorable scenes where the drama builds into some clever dance sequences underscoring the tension.
Keeping it together is a terrific cast made up of stage veterans and newcomers. Judith Paris as the femme fatale Elvira gives a passionate and exciting turn as the old resourceful madam. Susannah Allman oozes sensuality as Rita and looks fantastic as she wanders around stage in not very much. Matt Mella as Leandro and Jordan Alexander as Massimo, the gay couple with a complicated relationship have a terrific testosterone-charged tango scene that is a revelation to watch.
Richard Lambert’s lighting is also the other star of the show with its shadows and piercing light.
The Landor Theatre has yet another terrific production, full of passion, dance and hot (and sweaty) bodies. In The Dead of Night runs at the Landor Theatre until 16 May.