Darkness After Night: Ukraine

Stephan Morrow in Darkness After Night: Ukraine. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Stephan Morrow in Darkness After Night: Ukraine. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

As the audience entered, John Klenner’s song “Just Friends” as sung by Frank Sinatra, wafted through the space. Sinatra featured this song in his collection of heartbreaking music in his 1962 album All Alone.

The song is fitting and meets expectations for a sad tale of the tragic nature of Russia’s brutal conflagration with Ukraine, as explicated by actor, writer, and director Stephan Morrow in his program notes. After the final bows, Morrow returned to articulate his goal to bring the plight of Ukraine to the forefront of American consciousness through theater; to provide theater that is relevant, “to make work in theater that addresses issues that seem significant.” Morrow characterized his work as a complex “kaleidoscope” of ideas and themes supporting the story.

Morrow’s ”kaleidoscope” metaphor aptly describes the psychic shifts of focus that brought us, sometimes quickly, to scenes of romance, violence, execution, confrontation, political intrigue, espionage, war zones, and towards an aspirant denouement.

Carl Ellis Grant, Josh Alter, Stephan Morrow in Darkness after Night: Ukraine. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Carl Ellis Grant, Josh Alter, Stephan Morrow in Darkness After Night: Ukraine. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The play opened with Yuri Dubashin (Stephan Morrow) stopping a guard (George Lugo) from beating to death a young soldier prisoner Valery Myshkin (Liam Kyle McGowan). This portentous glimpse into Dubashin’s character garnered sympathy that was to mark his leadership. We discovered that Myshkin’s “crime” was to surreptitiously garner supplies from a depot for starving Russian soldiers in his company. Dubashin warned the young man that he cannot protect him if such actions reoccur.

Natalia Volkodaeva in Darkness after Night: Ukraine. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Natalia Volkodaeva in Darkness After Night: Ukraine. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Throughout the play, Anchorwoman Marusya (Natalia Volkodaeva) delivered regular updates on the Ukraine crisis in the story’s context. Her helpful, personal, rich, and passionate portrayal was enhanced by her rich Eastern European accent, composure, and demeanor.

Protagonist Dubashin was appalled by Russian brutality, well chronicled in a dramatic scene of artillery destroying a hospital filled with children. He defected and joined the Ukraine military leadership in an adventure that took him to Yemen, where he met with CIA operative John Kane (Carl Ellis Grant) and Yemeni citizen Anwar Ibn Suleiman (Josh Alter).

Carl Ellis Grant, Josh Alter, Stephan Morrow in Darkness after Night: Ukraine. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Emilie Bienne, Stephan Morrow, Joe Marshall, George Lugo in Darkness After Night: Ukraine Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

We discovered that tyrant and antagonist Number One (Joe Marshall) was a childhood companion of Dubashin who had risen to the heights of power to energize the ambitions of the Motherland to compel Ukraine into submission. Number One is an avaricious sort, stealing Dubashin’s politically ambitious love interest (Emilie Bienne). In a final stand-off between the two, Number One oddly offers Dubashin a partnership in his world-conquering enterprise. And then, the dramatic denouement.

With a simple stage set, Lighting Designs by Alexander Bartenieff perceptively supported the drama and intrigue. Sound Design was well crafted by Joy Linscheid, ensuring realistic war settings, pathos, and scene transitions.

Runtime is 90 minutes, including intermission.

Darkness After Night: Ukraine


Stephan Morrow as Yuri Dubashin
Joe Marshall as Putinesque Number One
Josh Allan Alter as Anwar Ono
Emilie Bienne as Andreyeva Ouspenskaya
Carl Ellis Grant as John Kane
George Lugo as Sgt. Lopahin
Liam McGowan as Valery Myshkin
Natalia Volkodaeva as as Ukraninian Anchorwan and Marusya


Written and Directed by Stephan Morrow
Crystal Field, Executive Director
Alexander Bartenieff, Lighting Design
Joy Linscheid, Sound Design
Mathew Seepersad, Stage Manager

Theater for the New City
155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)
New York, NY 10003


Find tickets for this and upcoming shows at https://theaterforthenewcity.net/

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of A Holiday Evening with Samantha Pauly, a Trip to Beautiful Cyprus, A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx, and Kathryn Farmer at Swing 46.

More to explore...

WTC Oculus and Path to NJ Entrance. Photo by Edward Kliszus

Latham House in Jersey City

I frequently dine around Manhattan while checking out the latest shows, jazz, and classical music venues. Friends recently reminded me that unique, excellent restaurants and sites could be found minutes away in Jersey City.

Pershing Square Café Sign and Entry. Photo by Edward Kliszus.

Pershing Square Café

I’ve often enjoyed Pershing Square Café’s wonderful breakfast specials and especially their legendary pancakes. After enjoying an early evening of swinging jazz across town at Birdland Jazz Club, I walked east from 8th Ave through Times Square on 42nd Street, past Bryant Park and Grand Central towards peaceful Tudor City. Nestled next to Grand Central where Park Avenue intersects 42nd Street is the Pershing Square Café. Tonight, it looked like the perfect quiet place for a post-jazz bite.

Tony Kadleck Big Band at Birdland. Photo by Edward Kliszus

Tony Kadleck Big Band at Birdland

Swinging big band music was hot in Manhattan! From the moment the Tony Kadleck Big Band began their set at the Birdland Jazz Club, we tapped our toes and jumped to a tasteful, tight, polished sound, solid rhythm section, cats burnin’ solos, and sophisticated superb arrangements by trumpeter and band leader Kadleck.

Review Categories
Events Tickets Center


Darkness After Night: Ukraine

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Please Join Us!

Sign up to receive the latest posts and reviews.