It was Tuesday, November 10th, 2016 at 7:00. The lights were dim. The voice on stage abruptly shrieked… a terrifying, spine chilling scream.
Lucille Fletcher-the women behind the madness-wrote the script for the play “Night Watch.” Long Reach High School’s Theater Department put on a play that was for sure to make every audience member gasp, yell, and cover their eyes when the ending of the play was revealed.
Night Watch is about a married woman named Elaine Wheeler (Brenda Lane) who claims to see a dead body from the apartment across the street. Wheeler suffers from insomnia, making her nights restless and anxiety driven. She has a strong negative emotional state of mind due to the death of her unfaithful ex-husband from a traumatic car accident. She directs her fears and feelings toward the people in her household. The play made many uncomfortable to watch: “At some points I wanted to hold Elaine and comfort her, and other times I wanted to scream at her and tell her to shut up,” Senior Denisse Padilla stated.
The lighting and intensity of the play made the audience feel anxious, nervous, and almost as if they were going through the same trauma Elaine was experiencing. The execution of emotion towards the audience hit a few of the audience members at heart. “Sitting in the audience and knowing what was going to happen was interesting because I got to observe how the audience reacted throughout the play,” said Alayna Lightfield, a theater student, after watching the play unwind. “It was awesome as an actor to see how much we impact the crowd.”
The actors on stage were comfortable with the sense of unease they generated. Acting in such a passionate way is difficult, especially when the passion is towards proving a point in the play that none of the other characters believe. It involves frustration, conflict, and the capability to act close to crazy on stage. By the time Elaine claimed to have seen a second dead body, her husband was already calling a psychologist to come in and talk to her.
Audience members experience a similar check of reality: What if she actually saw two dead bodies? What if her husband and caretaker are wrong about her mental state? What is the implication if she didn’t see the bodies? These open ended questions are revealed at the end of the play, creating closure for the audience and Elaine herself.
Although, there was one character who shed light onto the play despite the dark times surrounding the characters. Her name was Helga, the maid. Senior Nicole Hicks demonstrated Helga’s absolute silliness in the play perfectly, as the audience’s main source of comic relief. “Getting to be Helga made me happy because I could make the audience laugh even though the scenes were intense.” She concluded with stating, “Night Watch definitely needed some enlightenment to make the play feel more comfortable.”
Night Watch is a drama and trauma all in one. “I highly recommend this play to anyone that wants to be on the edge of their seat,” Denisse Padilla stated. Save the date for the next showing of Night Watch somewhere around you!