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Murder in the Dark

Murder in the Dark

Original Theatre, Trafalgar Theatre Productions & JAS Theatricals present the world premiere of

MURDER IN THE DARK

by Torben Betts Directed by Philip Franks

A spine-chilling ghost story, turned psychological thriller starring TV and stage favourites Tom Chambers (Holby City, Casualty, Waterloo Road, Father Brown and Strictly Come Dancing champion) and Susie Blake (Victoria Wood’s As Seen on TV).

What happens when the lights go out?

It’s New Year’s Eve, when a car crash on a deserted road brings famous but troubled singer Danny Sierra and his dysfunctional 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… As the tension rises and deeply buried secrets come to light, you’ll find nothing is quite as it seems.

From the mind of acclaimed writer Torben Betts and produced by the award-winning Original Theatre, who brought you the smash hit production of The Mirror Crack’d by Agatha Christie, Murder in The Dark will have you on the edge of your seats until the final chilling twist. Are you brave enough to uncover the truth?

Book your tickets and join us for a theatrical experience like no other.

Cast includes Rebecca Charles (The Dresser), Jonny Green (It’s a Sin), Owen Oakeshott (Witness for the Prosecution) and Laura White (Doctors).


Watch our interview with Tom Chambers, who stars in the production, playing the role of Danny.

 

Our review on Murder in the Dark

Murder In The Dark - The Lowry, Salford - Tuesday 23rd January 2024 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating
MURDER IN THE DARK IS AN EXCEPTIONAL THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE LEAVING YOU LITTLE TIME TO CATCH YOUR BREATH!

How far are you prepared to push your fear?  Are you willing to go to the edge of your boundaries and look it in the eye?  Murder In The Dark, the latest play by Torben Betts, invites you to come and play hide and seek with your primal instincts, count to ten, and be ready for whatever is lurking in the dark, because they are coming for you, ready or not.  A psychological twist on no ordinary ghost story asks the thrilling question, “what happens when the lights go out?”  I’m really not going to tell you what is lurking in the dark, you’ll have to discover that one for yourself, but it will make you question everything you thought you knew about your own mind.  This exceptional theatrical experience will leave you with so many thoughts and questions, that it really doesn’t leave you at all.  Twists, turns, tensions and terrors creep up on you in the midst of side-splitting humour, drama, and irrepressible characters, dismantling any chance you have of avoiding the unavoidable.  It is brilliant, quick witted, terrifying, and deliciously daring.





A deserted road, a car crash, a desolate country cottage and a famous singer whose personal ghosts haunt him daily are the set up for this highly anticipated production.  You are being lulled into a sense of false security if you think you’ve seen, heard, and read this kind of story before.  In short, you are easy pickings, just as I was.  This eerie cottage unearths inexplicable happenings, as pop star Danny simultaneously reveals his own hidden demons, from addiction to sacrifice, and the resulting overpowering fame.  An estranged brother, a resentful son, an unsuitable girlfriend and an ex wife all close in on him, but he arrogantly sees a glimmer of light when the eccentric farmer Mrs. Bateman offers shelter and safety.  Alarmingly quirky, with a bizarre and wild humour, can we ever really know what her truth is and which bits, if any, we can trust?      

And then the lights go out.





Adrenaline floods the audience, nervous laughter is soon replaced by the fear to breathe or make a sound.  The set teases you.  A television flickers.  A door slams.  Shadows dance around the stage and the set.  This show has its audience in the palm of its chilling hands and it has only just begun.  Max Pappenheim knows how to build tension as the sound designer and composer.  Fractured melodies of jagged violins accumulate to a palpable climax, leading us to something we know we should steer clear of, just like a trail of bread crumbs to a witches house.  An atmospheric orchestra is at play here, using every day sounds to heighten our senses and mess with our mind.  They are used with a playful yet creepy incongruence, so expect the unexpected.  A desolate cabin that has seen better days is the location, and designed by Simon Kenny it becomes a playground for the fear hiding inside you.  Everything is just a little creepy and a little dishevelled, where interior and exterior scenes are revealed with chilling ease.  Lighting by Paul Pyant plays with shadows, light and dark, offering phone lights, candles and electrical glares as its only solace.  





What makes this show stand out from other thrillers is its pandora’s box of surprises.  It refuses to play by the rules and so is above merely trying to scare the bejesus out of you, but offers impeccable humour, poignant songs, relationships, and the heart wrenching search for understanding, acceptance, and inner peace.  It challenges your wits, your thoughts, your observations and makes you question how much we sleepwalk through life and simply do not notice.  It is intelligent, hilarious, petrifying, and thought provoking all wrapped up in one fast paced, have to see it to appreciate it, experience.   The symbolism is fascinatingly subtle yet genius, with uncomfortable yet shamefully truthful parallels being woven throughout.  But to say anymore would be a risk, so as requested, I’m spreading the word, not the spoilers.





Directed by Philip Franks, acting alumni of Original Theatre and horror fan extraordinaire, Murder In The Dark couldn’t have been in safer hands.  He has truly found the nuances and intricacies in this Torben Betts play that make it stand alone from anything else out there.  He has used the strengths of his cast to flip us upside out and inside down before leaving us alone and wondering what on earth just happened. Tom Chambers (Holby, Father Brown, Dial M For Murder) is the agitated and once famous singer Danny.  Perfectly on edge throughout, he plays with pause for humour, tension, and self torture as we witness a brilliant portrayal of someone in turmoil.  He stunningly adjusts Dannys interactions with the various characters according to his relationship with them, and the result is a multi-faceted, fascinatingly flawed character that will knock your socks off.  Susie Blake (Coronation Street, Victoria Wood As Seen On Tv, Not Going Out) is the gift that keeps on giving as Mrs. Bateman.  What a privilege to watch comedic royalty at work.  Her timing is so precise that she can’t put a foot wrong, and the traits she brings to this mind altering character are, quite simply put, genius.  Her one liners are delivered so effortlessly that you are powerless to her charm, and she somehow manages to keep you belly laughing in the middle of a psychological thriller.  What a talent.  Life goal achieved.





Rebecca Charles (The Dresser, Abigails Party, An Ideal Husband) is Rebecca, the ex-wife and beautifully bounces between her confused feelings of love and resentment for Danny.  A bubbling pot of fire ready to explode, you can see her struggle as she tipples between honesty and keeping the peace.  Jonny Green (It’s A Sin, Digging Deep) is powerful as Jake the son.  A moving monologue to his father shows his vulnerability and is an emotional highlight of the evening.  Other moments see him disguising this through toxic and pent up outbursts, showing a great emotive performance.  Owen Oakeshott (Witness For The Prosecution, Outlander) provides us with Will, the estranged and bittersweet brother.  He brings utter belief to this heart torn character, betrayed yet beloved, and so unsure of how to process his feelings.  Again, comedy splinters through his performance to create electrifying moments.  Laura White (The Play That Goes Wrong, Doctors) is Sarah the girlfriend and she performs with hauntingly beautiful movement, creating incredible isolations and broken shapes.  This is juxtaposed against a naturalism in other moments of her performance and therefore she keeps us well and truly on our toes.





Murder In The Dark is a puzzle just waiting to be solved, and even when you think you have cracked it, think again.  The expert writing will tie your mind in knots and leave you with little time to catch your breath before you are torpedoed into the next enigma.  The characters and performances are blindingly brilliant and the whole thing somehow manages to balance humour, drama, tension, and a psychological crack right through your core.  One slight tip in the wrong direction and the whole thing could topple, and with a different cast, this would be a very different play.  The genius of this show is that it lets you think you are winning.  My advice?  Don’t get too comfortable with that thought for you never know what demons are lurking in the dark.  Come out come out where ever you are!



WE SCORE MURDER IN THE DARK...


Watch our "In Conversation with Tom Chambers" video discussing the show.
















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