Nov 25, 2023

Bring Life to Your Lunchtime at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre

Of A Midnight Meeting transports the audience to an eerie atmosphere of magic and seances

Ella HusseyRadius Co-Editor

On another rainy Friday in Dublin, we walked through a flooded Grafton Street towards Bewley’s Cafe where we took shelter in anticipation of Of A Midnight Meeting, written by and starring Katie McCann and directed by Jeda de Brí. 

Walking in, we were immediately met with an intimate atmosphere, the room filled with small circular wooden tables and rickety chairs, dimly lit by candlelight. For 1pm on a Friday, every table was surprisingly full, with the entire room waiting in anticipation of the performance. Instantly transported to a Victorian parlour, the set automatically caught the eye, featuring a wall decorated with dozens of oddly shaped frames, an old-school jukebox, a coat rack and trinkets scattered around the set. There was no detail missed in bringing this world to life, as the audience is placed within the home of the medium, Hester O’Brien (Katie McCann).

As the production kicked off, Nathaniel Hawker (Naoise Dunbar) entered the stage in search of O’Brien. Hawker, a scientist who has taken on a project for Scientific American, is determined to debunk mediums and aims to investigate Hester’s activities. Throughout the play, the leads constantly contrast each other. This is initiated through the costume design, which has Hawker in a full suit and briefcase contrasting O’Brien’s long dress and head shawl. They are from completely different worlds. 


The performance constantly plays on their power dynamic, moving through the space when it appears that Hawker has the upper hand on O’Brien. Circling the table, sitting on the arm of her chair, he knows all about her secret past from changing her name to her mysterious daughter. He is aggressive or stands above her when she tries to challenge him. Voices are raised and rows are argued as the play continues. Suddenly, the candles on the audience’s tables blow out as Hester begins her seance, leaving the audience in anticipation of what will happen next. 

Hawker’s arrogance and cynical mindset detach him from submitting to O’Brien’s seance. It is only when the power switches to the medium’s hand that she claims to reach Nathaniel’s brother and mother, exposing that she researched him before their meeting. Suddenly, the audience begins to question the legitimacy of O’Brien’s work.

Throughout the performance, you felt the suspense that something bigger was coming. O’Brien admits that her daughter is dead- that is why she became a medium. Suddenly, an eerie song begins to play from the jukebox with a woman’s voice singing along. The lights begin to violently flicker as the music increasingly gets louder and Hawker attacks the jukebox and then falls to his knees in tears. 

The image of the pair sitting on the floor in each other arms was a vulnerable moment of unity, they spent the entire play in conflicting minds to come together as one. The performance ends with O’Brien revealing that it was all a ploy to trick Hawker. However, she had no explanation for the singing voice through the jukebox. With this, the lights harshly cut the play to a close, leaving the audience with more questions than answers.

Katie McCann’s Of A Midnight Meeting completely captivated the audience throughout the whole performance. The use of setting, space and masterful acting made it a highly creditable play. Only an hour in length, as you leave the darkly lit room to the daylight, it is as though you have been transported in time so quickly that it is the perfect mid-day Dublin activity. McCann did an excellent job of creating a haunting atmosphere and thrilling performance. 

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