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Review: DCPA’s Last Night and the Night Before

Zaria Kelley and Bianca LaVerne Jones as Samantha and Rachel.
Photo courtesy of Adam Lundeen for DCPA

A family drama infused with nail-biting suspense

drama infused with laughter, lightness, hope, and despair, Last Night and the Night Before explores the struggle of the responsibilities people are expected to attach themselves to and the uncertainty of the choices they make.

Imagine: one day, life is good, peaceful in a sense. Then suddenly, one is forced into a car by their mother. And for 10 hours there are no questions to be asked because there are no answers ready to be given, driving on the highway in silence. As a little girl, barely over the age of 10, what does one do? How does one respond to such haste and actions?

Last Night and the Night Before showcases the unexpected turn of events when Monique and her 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, show up at the doorstep of her sister’s apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Much shock and concern surrounds Monique and Samantha’s arrival as Monique’s sister, Rachel, and her partner, Nadima, question what has caused such an unusual family reunion.

But their main concern is about  little 10-year-old Samantha.

When Monique and Samantha first arrive, there is tension between the two. Her daughter shows annoyance and disgust in her facial expressions towards Monique; she complains she doesn’t want to be here and refuses to give a kiss to her mother. Worst of all, Samantha has panic attacks and hyperventilates  unexpectedly.

Suspicion grows within the audience as two major questions surface in the beginning minutes: What has happened to Monique and her daughter? And what has it done to Samantha?

Last Night and the Night Before demonstrates a wide balance of different emotions throughout its runtime, from humor to happiness, and sadness to hate. 

The first act starts off suspenseful, drawing in the audience with tension: slow, deep, heavy breaths accompany the noise of someone digging a hole. During this, the audience is given visuals of an African-American man digging a grave and dumping a body below stage. 

It then transitions through many phases of joy and sadness. A conflict brews not just between Monique and Samantha but also between Rachel and Nadima.

By the start of the second act, much has changed in Rachel and Nadima’s household. The happy and joyous feeling that once laid rest is no longer there. The drama intensifies, focusing more on the disconnect that has plagued their relationship.

The dialogue is emotionally spoken by the actresses, Bianca LaVerne Jones and Erin Cherry, in still relatable tones. At the same time, plot twists occur and secrets surface, producing many gasps and much curiosity.

Last Night and the Night Before deals with the complications and consequences that occur when it comes to uneasy decision making. It consists of real-life situations where what’s best may not be best for what is, but could be for the future. The play thoroughly focuses on what it means to be a family through a dark period. It shows the will power it takes to get over the bump and prosper in the end.

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