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Murder in the Dark
February 19th - February 24th
What happens when the lights go out?
New Year’s Eve. A car crash on a lonely road brings famous but troubled singer Danny Sierra and his extended family to an isolated holiday cottage in rural England. From the moment they arrive, a sequence of inexplicable events begin to occur… and then the lights go out.
This thrilling new ghost story will thrust you into darkness and have you on the edge of your seats until the final chilling twist.
Are you brave enough for Murder in the Dark?
Starring TV and stage favourite Tom Chambers (Holby City, Casualty, Waterloo Road, Father Brown and Strictly Come Dancing champion), Susie Blake (Victoria Wood’s As Seen on TV, Coronation Street), Rebecca Charles (The Dresser), Jonny Green (It’s a Sin), Owen Oakeshott (Witness for the Prosecution) and Laura White (Doctors), A world premiere from the acclaimed writer Torben Betts produced by the award-winning Original Theatre who brought you the pulse racing hit The Mirror Crack’d by Agatha Christie, Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art, the smash-hit comedy Invincible and the acclaimed Birdsong.
Running time: Approx 2hrs inc interval
Recommended Age: 14+
Photo credit: Pamela Raith
Absolutely fabulous performance by all! The onstage atmosphere was soooooo spooky! A superb night out. Thank you cast & crew you did the best ever performance!
Brilliantly written and the actors were fabulous definitely recommend 100%
Highly anticipated but thoroughly disappointed. Not scary, melodramatic and over complicated, especially the ridiculous conclusion.
The View from the Stalls - Pete Phillips
A clever script and a rich vein of humour make for one fun show.
A good thriller/chiller/ghost story needs a rich seam of humour running through it as well and that is certainly the case for Murder In The Dark by Torben Betts. It also needs a great cast to carry it off, of course and in this production, it is down to the ever popular Tom Chambers and Susie Blake. Whilst Tom Chambers can successfully flit between straight acting and musicals (Top Hat, for example), Susie Blake has a CV in drama and comedy as long as your arm, perhaps best known as the sweet but acid-tongued continuity announcer in Victoria Wood's TV shows. And it is exactly that type of persona which is present here - a quiet, unassuming overly religious widowed farmer(!) who clearly, with a twinkle in her eye, has the hots for the unexpected visitor who, as in all the best stories, is a washed-up pop star, has crashed his car, been stranded in a snowdrift 20 miles from the nearest village and ends up on the widow's farm in an outhouse with a faulty electrical system which suddenly turns on the TV to play 3 Blind Mice…
To say much more would be to give away the plot (the audience is sworn to secrecy…) and that would be unfair as there is plenty to be revealed during the show until the surprising climax. Other characters appear in the show - family members mostly, including Rebecca Charles as the ex-wife, Jonny Green as the abandoned son, Owen Oakeshott as the big brother and Laura White as his current girlfriend. Is all as it seems though?
Director Philip Franks has taken a great script and, with Simon Kenny and Max Pappenheim (designers) created a creepy set and weaved in some effective special effects to produce a show which manages to keep the right balance of scary and humour.
Dark, twisted and very funny - totally enjoyable and best experienced in person…
Fairy Powered Productions - Courie Amado Juneau
Murder In The Dark is a deliciously odd new play that tells the tale of a lady who comes to the aid of some travellers when their car loses out in an argument with a wall. Though the house she deposits them in is cold and dank it’s an improvement on the outside weather so, at first, there is some blessed relief. That relief turns out to be not so blessed nor long lasting as they would have hoped…
The programme asks us to “spread the word (but not the spoilers)”. This makes sense as there are many twists and turns which are all part of the fun. But it does make it difficult to review without giving the game away.
Mrs Bateman, heroic rescuer extraordinaire, is played by the incomparable Susie Blake in a totally bonkers portrayal (I mean that as a compliment) that has just about everything in it, displaying her mastery of comedy, drama and timing. It was a joy to watch her character unfold in a commanding performance.
Tom Chambers mines a rich seam of confusion at events and frustration at those around him in the multifaceted role of Danny; driver of the car and former teen star latterly down on his luck. Like Blake, he straddles the dark and the light with an easy assuredness.
Our two leads are ably supported by a stellar cast – Rebecca Charles (Rebecca, Danny’s ex), Owen Oakeshott (William, Danny’s brother), Laura White (Sarah, Danny’s current girlfriend) and Jonny Green (Jake, Danny and Rebecca’s son). The writer has given them all a lot to get their teeth into and they don’t disappoint – I was impressed with everyone’s range throughout. As you can guess by the dramatis personae, there’s a wealth of subplots going on with all those familial connections and each brings their own demons to battle.
The set uses space with an inventive economy, providing us with some genuinely jarring, unsettling moments out of the blue (or the black). With the electrics on the fritz, it’s nice to see darkness play such an integral part in proceedings. I found myself spending a lot of time wondering just what will appear from those murky recesses. Max Pappenheim (Sound Designer and Composer) and Paul Pyant (Lighting Designer) deserve special mention for the marvellous effects they produced.
Rather like several popular TV shows (which I cannot mention for obvious reasons), if you like the oddball, quirky, darker side of TV scheduling with a twist in the tale this play will keep your boat afloat nicely. I enjoyed it though I did find myself flummoxed for long periods, wondering exactly what was going on – so well done the playwright Torben Betts for keeping us guessing. Rest assured though, the ending does reach a satisfactory conclusion.
An entertaining play that I would like to see again, I thought the ending was very inventive (I thoroughly appreciate that type of ending). Couple that with some powerhouse performances and this is likely to be a crowd pleaser (though perplexer). I encourage you all to brave the cold, dark nights to get out to Malvern and catch this play while you can – though do be careful on your drive home…
A View from Behind the Arras - Emma Trimble
The brand new Torben Betts thriller, Murder in the Dark, began the UK and Ireland Tour in September last year, premiering at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, and is still unsettling audiences at Malvern Festival Theatre this week.
Does this psychological thriller set your teeth on edge and can this ghost story offer up something perplexing and ominous to really test your nerve?
Definitely not for the fainthearted with the many twists and turns that will most certainly get the heart racing and the mind whirring as director Philip Franks takes you through a plethora of emotions with plenty of jump scares thrown in.
Tom Chambers, as aging popstar Danny, has finally hit rock bottom with his career and family life fluttering in tatters in the wind, but things aren’t always what they seem. Or are they?
Not the best New Year’s Eve celebration when Danny crashes his car, stranding himself and latest squeeze Sarah, Laura White, in the middle of nowhere with a strange and eccentric pig farmer Mrs Bateman, Susie Blake. Beware of the dog prowling the outside and the dodgy electrics.
Other guests at the cottage with an outside toilet and shower, is Danny’s son Jake, Jonny Green, his ex-partner Rebecca, Rebecca Charles and his brother William, Owen Oakeshott.
The set designed by Simon Kenny, cleverly slides from inside to outside and through the other side with plenty of doors leading off to other rooms and windows to keep an eye on. Despite the macabre atmosphere, there is plenty of humour thrown in, with even a musical interlude as brothers William and Danny perform together. Lots of horror film influences can be seen throughout, with a penchant for Japanese horror like The Ring.
A play with lots to digest, although probably best not to eat the mushroom and garlic soup, which will keep you entertained as mysteries unfold and it all clicks into place. Once upon a time, there were three blind mice…
Prepare to be perched on the edge of your seats this week at Malvern Theatres.
British Theatre Guide
Faded pop star Danny and girlfriend Sarah are forced after his mother’s funeral to spend the night with his estranged brother Will, and the wife and son he abandoned 11 years earlier.
They come together at an old house owned by the bible-quoting, possibly homicidal, pig farmer Mrs Bateman whose weird ways would have you dashing to the nearest Holiday Inn. Except, wouldn’t you know, it’s too remote a location to get a taxi, and there is no phone or internet.
When the lights frequently flicker, they oddly stimulate an old TV into broadcasting a recording of Three Blind Mice (Agatha Christie, anyone?) or worse still, the ghost of a young ballet dancer.
Torben Betts’ new play is not so much a whodunnit as a whodunwhat, that mixes horror, suspense and comedy in as potentially lethal a mix as the ingredients of Mrs Bateman’s wild mushroom soup. Things, naturally, are not what they seem, and the twists within a twist are startling.
Tom Chambers plays Danny as a twitching wreck of a character, a man possessed, and by more demons than drink, while ex-Coronation Street Susie Blake emits a gleeful misery as the chatterbox Mrs Bateman. Owen Oakeshott as Will and Rebecca Charles as Danny’s ex preserve the right level of forgiving hostility, with Laura White as the somewhat distant girlfriend and Jonny Green an excitable son Jake.
Torben Betts has taken elements of some classics (The Ring, The Sixth Sense, The Mousetrap, Dr Faustus) thrown them in the blender and come up with………. “Murder in the Dark”. Part horror movie, part morality play, part who-dunnit and even part comedy, it’s an interesting take on the old haunted house story. It’s a slow burner up to the interval, setting the scene with Danny Sierra, dissolute, has-been boy-band star, and family finding themselves stranded in the sticks after a car crash. You know the story - befriended by a batty/creepy local who offers to put them up for the night, miles from anywhere, raging snow storm , no wi-fi or telephone line, tensions running high etc. Then things begin to get really odd. It picks up after the interval as more supernatural happenings lead us to the final twist (no spoilers). Does it work - yes, the twists and turns keep you interested to the end, even if it is a little telegraphed but I suppose it has to be otherwise no one would know what’s going on, other than Mr Betts and maybe the director. Mostly it works because the cast is so strong, with Susie Blake on top form and getting most of the laughs, Tom Chambers very believable as the boy band star fallen on hard times (tricky for such a good-looking smoothy) and the rest of the cast joining in a tight production. Definitely worth a view.
Watched the matinee on Wednesday. Thoroughly enjoyed this and everything about it. Clever story , great acting ; “supernatural comedy thriller” doesn't exactly trip off the tongue but it was certainly very satisfying.
Thank you very much for an excellent afternoon.