Michael Weller's 2002 play, "What The Night Is For" is a burst of fireworks preceded by a string of duds. This two character play concerns Melinda Metz and Adam Penzius, two former lovers who now, as well as then, are married to other people. After ten long years the pair have reunited in a hotel room for a night full of questions, answers, longing, and pain.
The first act is slow going as the two tapdance around each other as each attempts to feel the other one out. While this is a correct idea, the execution of it is problematic, as the act is TOO slow-moving and drags greatly with neither character revealing much about themselves or their former relationship nor happen to seem very interesting.
Act Two, however, greatly ups the stakes for he characters as well as the play itself as Melinda and Adam unravel each other and lay their cards on the table; a process that leaves both exposed, honest, and terrified. This is where Weller's play shines as the lives and emotions of the characters begin to take over the play and speak for themselves intead of letting Weller's pen speak for them.
The structure of the play is very fine, with only the 'revelation' of Melinda's condition feeling poorly handled and placed. Weller's dialogue is a bit of a problem at times, especially in the first act. Before both characters up the ante with each other in the second act, there is largely nothing for them to do except complain about and compare lives. As both characters are upper-crust, well-off New Yorkers (or former New Yorkers), there is little in their lives to make the audience care about them. This leaves a bit of a disconnect between the play and the audience and sends sympathy, as well as interest, out the window for a large portion of the first act.
On a technical note, the role of Adam is not as complex as the role of Melinda, therefore this play requires an actress of considerable skill while being able to get away with using a mediocre actor.
The play could have used a bit more tweaking, but still comes out as an interesting read. I would say its worth checking out sometime, but if you never get to it, don't kick yourself.