Riverside tells moving story with virtual play ‘Midnight Your Time’

Riverside Theatre’s virtual performance, which premiered this weekend, a powerful story of a mother who repeatedly tries to contact her distant daughter via video call.



Parker Jones, Arts Reporter

A Skype ringtone echoes over a black screen.

The camera turns on and a woman appears, sitting alone in a darkened kitchen. Donning colorfully patterned sweaters and scarlet reading glasses that rest off-center of her nose, a look of tired but hopeful anticipation appears on her face, hovering above a small smile.

The ringtone ends, unanswered once again, and the woman’s smile disappears.

Through a series of one-sided video messages, a tale of a mother and daughter is told, their relationship strained by the physical and emotional distance between them — kindling a familiar feeling in a time where virtual connection is the dominant form of communication.

Riverside Theatre’s newest virtual performance, titled ‘Midnight Your Time’, premiered this weekend on the evening of Nov. 13. The performance will run until Nov. 22.

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Written by playwright Adam Brace, the hour-long play follows Judy, a mother living in London, and her turbulent relationship with her daughter Helen, who is working in Palestine. Judy tries again and again to connect with Helen via a Skype video call, and Helen, who is never seen on screen, repeatedly leaves her mother unanswered.

Riverside’s Producing Artistic Director Adam Knight introduced the play with a short clip where he stated that the performance is a representation of Riverside’s commitment to “serious-minded storytelling that speaks to the now.”

That statement could not have been more accurate in describing “Midnight Your Time.” Although the play is not set during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that it was written and performed with the current situation in mind.


The play stars Jody Hovland, a co-founder and former Artistic Director of Riverside Theatre, as Judy. A member of the Actors’ Equity Association and longtime performer at Riverside, Hovland’s return to the digital stage is a fitting celebration of Riverside’s 40th anniversary season.

Hovland’s solo performance as Judy made it feel as though you were really engaged in a video call with a close relative. With all the small talk and ramblings of mildly interesting events from a mother simply excited to share her day, it was a realistic portrayal of a familiar activity.

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As the play goes on, Judy’s frustration becomes more and more clear, as her daughter’s lack of response incites a disappointed and desperate reaction from Judy. The play’s writing, while a bit stagnant at times as a result of having only one character to look to, was a realistic portrayal of a mother whose sole desire is to have some form of contact with her distant daughter.

Helen’s silence truly spoke louder than words — Judy’s despondent reaction brought about a feeling of shame familiar to anyone who has avoided a video call during quarantine. However, the feeling doesn’t last long when her daughter finally answers, and Judy’s expression returns to one of hope and happiness, eliciting a similar feeling of relief from myself as well.

Despite all the complicated troubles that come with virtual communication, whether it be a family member unwilling to return your calls, or even as trivial as a poor internet connection, Riverside’s digital performance of Midnight Your Time makes it clear that the connections and relationships between people, no matter the distance between them, are what truly matter.