After one too many bottles of cheap wine, Judith leaves a drunken message on her ex-boyfriend Jack’s answer phone late one night, saying that she’d bought some razor blades and some henna – and come the morning, she’ll have either killed herself, or dyed her hair. When the doorbell rings, it’s not Jack, but his new girlfriend Ros – the replacement.
Henna Night was one of playwright Amy Rosenthal’s first pieces, and in places it shows. While she has an ear for dialogue and is able to find wry comedy in the darkest of lines, there are places where the gags are a little too frequent and forced, and others where Judith breaks into overlong, overwritten monologue.
Rather than being a confrontational piece, Rosenthal makes both women ultimately likeable, creating a comedy of awkward manners than anything more explosive. That’s no bad thing, but it makes the whole play risk feeling flat What saves the whole piece are the two performances from Stephanie James as Judith and, in particular, Lauren Garnham as Ros, who imbue their slight characters with real warmth.