The Cultch’s beautiful new little studio theatre becomes a doom-ridden basement suite bedroom in DualMinds’ Any Night, the latest compact two-hander from Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn. The couple who made such an impact with their Tuesdays and Sundays, an exquisite one-act play about love and death in rural Prince Edward Island, have moved to an urban setting here and upped the Gothic quotient. As Hahn’s character, Anna, says to her upstairs neighbour and handyman, Patrick (Arnold), echoing a woman who has read her Tarot cards, “One of us will die and one of us will die inside, but I can’t tell which.” She’s right, and I won’t tell you which, either. But that’s really the least interesting element of this fascinating cinematic play.
Anna, the new tenant in the suite, is a dancer and a chronic sleepwalker. We first see her—and see her many times later—making violent choreographed movements on her bed, bathed in David Fraser’s stark, moody lighting and accompanied by Gordon Heal’s evocative soundtrack. Anna does freaky things in her sleep, and she tells Patrick of even scarier things she has done before, like waking up with steak knives in her hands. She’s a disturbed and disturbing character, possibly being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. Wearing pajamas throughout the show, with a permanently haunted look on her beautiful, strong face, Hahn convincingly portrays Anna as a woman caught up in a nightmare. Whether it will prove to be hers or Patrick’s remains to be seen.
Patrick, too, is a strange one. He snoops around Anna’s place, turning up at unlikely times. He may be a chronic liar, a sociopath. HE may be stalking her, or secretly watching her through a two-way mirror, or secretly recording her. Patrick and Anna become lovers but something doesn’t feel right. Though Arnold has an innocent boyish look, he also acts sleaze and creepiness really well. Something’s gonna give.
Ron Jenkins, the director responsible for the brilliant Black Rider, continually raises the Gothic ante, stirring up the ominous atmosphere around these two characters through sound and lighting effects and Anna’s spooky somnambulism. He also makes great use of the only other set piece besides the bed, a short staircase on wheels that the characters push around the stage, Anna sometimes riding it like a nightmare chariot with Patrick her apocalyptic horseman.
An intense, intermissionless 80 minutes, Any Night confirms DualMinds as one of the most fertile new companies around. As writers and actors, Medina and Hahn are definitely a duo to watch. The addition of director Jenkins makes them a frighteningly talented trio.