Review: Night of January 16th

Written for The Stage

There’s much to like in Jane Moriarty’s dastardly production of Ayn Rand’s melodramatic courtroom saga, Night of January 16th.

Bjorn Faulkner’s mangled body is found at the bottom of a New York apartment block, but did he jump from his penthouse suit or was he pushed? As the jurors of this whodunit, the decision lies in our hands (though one suspects Rand’s biased script will always lead the audience one way).

Moriarty brings out assured performances from her 11 strong cast who deliver Rand’s skyscraper poetry with melodic fluidity. Jonathan Rigby and David Mildon are commanding as, respectively, the savvy prosecution and reasonable defence attorney. Francesca Secchi gives a cool but passionate portrayal of Karen Andre, Faulkner’s raven mistress while Jessica Guise underscores doe-eyed widow Nancy Lee Faulkner with a glint of steel. In a rich merry-go-round of witnesses, Donavan Imber as Guts Regan is particularly juicy.

In what boils down to being a battle of souls it becomes evident that Night of January 16th is essentially Rand’s love letter to rational egoism. But Moriarty takes each corner of the argument at full throttle ensuring it never becomes a lecture and that in this courtroom at least, drama rules supreme.

Runs until February 25