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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

Night and Day

Tom Stoppard

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To purchase Night and Day

Title: Night and Day
Author: Tom Stoppard
Genre: Drama
Written: 1978
Length: 113 pages
Availability: in: Tom Stoppard Plays: Five - US
Night and Day - UK
(also in: Tom Stoppard Plays: Five - UK)
in Tom Stoppard: Plays 5 - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B : Africa and journalism, without quite the usual Stoppard sparkle

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times B 25/1/2001 Wilborn Hampton

  From the Reviews:
  • "If the nostalgia of journalism as it was once practiced is part of the charm of Night and Day, it is also now one of its weaknesses." - Wilborn Hampton, The New York Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Tom Stoppard famously did not attend university. He did, however, work in journalism for a time. Always a popular subject in Great Britain, Night and Day tackles many of the ticklish modern media problems.
       Set in post-colonial Africa three journalists cross paths in dangerous times. The grizzled photographer Guthrie, the cynical veteran reporter Wagner, and the naif Milne meet at the household of mine owner Geoffrey Carson and his wife, Ruth. The mines are what the current national dispute are about, and everyone is in over their heads.
       Larger than life local head of state President Mageeba stands in for any African dictator of the times -- Stoppard may have had Idi Amin in mind, but previous and future Zairean/Congolese rulers fit the bill just as well. In part the play is about the events unfolding in the nation, but its main focus is on the reporting of the events. The journalists are being used by the various actors in this diplomatic game, while they also try to play their own little games -- save the innocent Milne (who is, appropriately, then sacrificed).
       Ruth, whose unspoken thoughts are revealed to the audience, provides some comic relief, though the fact that she slept with Wagner while in London is an unlikely complication. There is also the Carson's son, the too-precocious young boy used to too familiar effect.
       The dialogue is often sharp and fairly clever, without too much Tom-foolery. Stoppard's colonial plays (e.g. also Indian Ink) tend to sag somewhat. There is a seriousness and portentousness that he does not manage to blend in well (as he does brilliantly in Arcadia). Night and Day also has a somewhat dated feel in that many of the questions of getting the story in on time and technology in general have rendered aspects of the play obsolete.
       Night and Day is a fine play, but not a great one. Its presentation of questions of journalism and, to a lesser extent, post-colonial politics are fairly interesting. But it is not a must see (or read).

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Night and Day: Reviews: Tom Stoppard: Other works by Tom Stoppard under review: Works about Tom Stoppard under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

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About the Author:

       British dramatist Tom Stoppard, born in 1937, is author of such notable plays as Arcadia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

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