Masterful storytelling explores the core of communication in Riverside’s ‘Midnight Your Time’

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Jody Hovland in Riverside Theatre’s production of Adam Brace’s ‘Midnight Your Time.’ — S. Benjamin Farrar

As both a mother and a daughter, I found Midnight Your Time resonant and meaningful.

Riverside Theatre’s current streaming production, Midnight Your Time by Adam Brace, is a one-woman show featuring Riverside co-founder Jody Hovland. Directed by Adam Knight, this is the story of a mother learning a new role as her adult children have grown up and moved far away. This is the story of an extended argument and rift. This is the story of a family that loves each other.

The play opens on New Year’s with the mother, Judy, leaving a video message for her daughter, Helen, who is living and working in the Middle East. The play progresses through a series of video messages from Judy to her daughter Helen. Hovland masterfully tells the story of this mother’s desperation to stay connected to her daughter, as well as her desire to do good in her retirement.

We also see that Judy is not entirely a loving, caring mother. However sad and sincere Judy’s desire to stay connected to Helen is, more than once Judy berates Helen’s work and brings up inheritance as a tool to try to manipulate her daughter. Judy repeatedly says, “I’m alright as long as I know.” Helen is silent.

A behind-the-scenes shot of the filming of ‘Midnight Your Time.’ — S. Benjamin Farrar

As the play progresses, the audience comes to understand the evolution of the family and its relationships — all through the video messages that Judy leaves. The irony of the play is that although family members who live a world away from one another can be connected, they cannot truly connect and communicate unless they are willing to do so.

It is in the absence of communication that the tragedy of this play comes to life. By the end of the play, we see Judy promising to change if only her daughter will stay in touch.

Midnight Your Time is staged and filmed at Theatre Cedar Rapids using a repurposed set, the elements of which evolve as time elapses throughout the show. Because the entire play is staged as a series of video messages, every single facial expression and slightest movement contributes to the characterization and storytelling. Hovland is a master storyteller in this show, and Knight an outstanding director.

This is a play that will give rise to conversations about what real communication is and the forms that it takes, especially in today’s world.

Midnight Your Time is available to view through midnight, Nov. 22. Tickets are $10-15.

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