“A feint within a feint within a feint…”
So, I was scrolling through my Liked tweets list the other day when I came across something I’d forgotten about.
Back in June, Jeremy Jordan had tweeted about getting involved with an Audible play earlier in the year. Then the page for his website tweeted the link to the play a little later on, so I retweeted the page’s message so I wouldn’t forget again.
Not knowing what to expect, I nonetheless took the leap the day after Halloween and listened to this play for the first time. It was called Nightfall, and it was by a playwright I’d personally never heard of before, so I was going in completely blind, other than knowing about Jeremy Jordan’s involvement in the project. It starred Cynthia Bastidas and MaYaa Boateng alongside Jeremy Jordan.
That being said…
My only regret about listening to this play when I did was that I should’ve done it on Halloween, because this story fits that holiday perfectly!
Anyway, enough backstory. Let’s get into the meat of this thing.
The story opens with a mother and her stepdaughter camping in the woods. While hiking one night, the daughter is attacked by something and they both hurry back to camp. Soon after, a stranger comes across their campsite and tells them about the outbreak of a deadly virus in the nearby city. Realizing her stepdaughter is infected, the mother must make some choices about her next move.
With the daughter only getting sicker as time goes on, the mother and the stranger must work together to get out of the campsite and get the daughter help before it’s too late. But infighting between the mother and the stranger will test more than just their patience, and with the daughter’s time to heal running out, they will have to work together to fix the problems they’re facing.
Can they find a way out of there before it’s too late?
I liked Karla a lot. She was very protective of her stepdaughter Olivia and clearly cared about her, which was sweet to see. I felt bad that she got into the situation she did and really didn’t know how to handle it, but while that was going on, Olivia was always her number one priority.
Her relationship with the stranger Ryan was understandable given the circumstances. I mean, he stumbled into their campsite and started eating their food claiming there’s a plague in the next city over? I can understand why she was suspicious of him and his story.
I don’t want to spoil the very end, so I won’t comment on the resolution for Karla. I will only say that it was probably intended to frighten or horrify the reader, and that’s exactly what it did to me! I was worried I wouldn’t sleep the night I listened to it.
What can I say about this poor girl? She’s a typical teenager, and her attitude makes a lot of sense given her family situation, but I really felt a lot of sympathy for her throughout.
Her feelings toward Karla were understandable. I mean, the woman’s not her mom, but she still tried to act like one. I can see why Olivia may not agree with that.
We get a lot of background into her family before Ryan shows up, and I can see why Olivia is obstinate and rude toward her stepmother. She hates the entire family situation and she’s resentful. For this reason, I am very glad Karla never gave up on her.
I admit, Ryan stumbling into the campsite just by chance kind of made me curious about him right away. Him telling the two girls all about the situation in the city had me concerned for all three of them.
I don’t really know what to say about his relationship with Karla that I haven’t said already. She didn’t trust him, and he kept trying to worm his way to her trust so he would get what he wanted.
His motives for all this are clear: he wants to protect himself. But he didn’t take into account that Karla would never, ever go along with his plans if they involved leaving Olivia alone, and once he came across them, it was no longer just about him anymore.
This play is set up over a course of about four scenes, each scene dedicated to building characters, conflict, and plot.
The first half hour or so is dedicated to building the relationship between Karla and Olivia before any of the plot kicks in. About the point when Olivia is attacked in the woods is where we start to see the actual story set in motion.
These first couple of scenes before that attack are not exciting, but they are necessary. Otherwise we wouldn’t care at all about Olivia and Karla and what happens to them later on.
Once Ryan comes in, it’s all hands on deck to get help for Olivia and stay safe as the outbreak trickles into the campsite. The arguing between Karla and Ryan provides the conflict as they try to decide what’s best to do.
Ryan’s own motivations also add to that conflict beautifully. He doesn’t care about Olivia at all, and this provides the tension between him and Karla because they have different values and desires. He just wants to protect himself first and foremost. That’s what Karla has to contend with.
I have to include a section for this. It’s mandatory because this is an audio play.
The voice acting in this is incredible! Because I don’t want to get the actors and their characters mixed up, I won’t be referring to the female characters by their actresses’ names because I don’t know them. I did find their names in the credits, but I don’t know who played whom. I will be referencing Jeremy Jordan, though, since I recognized him (and he’s kind of the only male character, so that made it easier, too).
Karla’s actress did an incredible job! You can see her clearly as the concerned, caring stepmother she should be. I loved hearing the obvious concern for Olivia in her voice, along with her mistrust of Ryan’s character. You could feel the tension building as the story went on, but you could also see her as the stepmother just trying to do her best.
Olivia’s voice actress did amazing as well! You could hear the obstinance and just the general dislike of Karla in her voice clearly. At the same time, she also brought out the vulnerability of the scared little teenager beautifully. It was why I felt so bad for her throughout the play. It did unnerve me that, as the play went on, though, she spoke less and less. You only heard her moaning in pain…
Finally, Jordan plays Ryan perfectly! I love that he is laid-back, but you can hear the fear when he’s talking about the virus and the people he left behind. A lack of trust and fear lead him to arguing with Karla over what’s best to do, and it’s amazing to hear the breakdown of his character as the story goes on.
There weren’t a lot of these, but what little there were added to the scenes. In audio plays like this, it is necessary to include sounds to make the setting seem real, even though it’s not actually there.
Hearing the jets fly overhead or the static of the radio mentioning “quarantine” and “virus” made the scenes they were in all the more unsettling!
Even when Ryan sat down when Karla and Olivia first met him… you could tell by the groan he let out that he hadn’t been able to relax in a long time.
The sounds Olivia made as she got sicker and sicker added to the tension regarding the spread of the virus, especially because she spoke very little during that time!
All in all, I would really recommend giving this play a shot. The story went where I was not expecting, and I really enjoyed all the actors’ interactions, along with the sound effects that made you feel like you were actually there with them!
If you have an hour and forty minutes, I’d really recommend giving this a try. I promise, the story will pull you in and not let you go until the end!
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars