site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Silchester Players - Night Must Fall

13th, 14th, 20th and 21st May 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Good choice of classic thriller

Silchester Players: Night Must Fall, at Silchester village hall, on Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14, and Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21

It's the stuff that all good thrillers are made of: a secluded cottage in the country - home to the wheelchair-bound Mrs Bramson, her spinster niece Olivia, and a couple of servants. When a wealthy woman from the village disappears in mysterious circumstances and then turns up headless in the Bramson rubbish pit, the suspicion immediately falls on the self-assured young Danny, who is making himself at home with the family. But Mrs Bramson can't see past Danny's charming facade, and a second murder seems almost inevitable.

The storyline belongs to Emlyn Williams' psychological drama Night Must Fall, staged last week by Silchester Players. This was an ambitious choice of play, and I felt that the players struggled at times to achieve the necessary pace. Written and set in 1935, the plot seemed somewhat thin compared with more contemporary thrillers, and the play's impact relied heavily on the chemistry between the principal characters.

Sadly this interaction didn't really come across strongly enough - particularly the sinister bond that grows between Danny and Olivia as the latter struggles to understand her feelings towards the young guest.

Having said that, there were some fine performances from the small cast. Lyn Davies was superbly entertaining as the housekeeper and village gossip Mrs Terence, while Jo Nobbs gave a good if slightly distracted performance as the young maid Dora.

Nick Lock was perfectly cast as the tenacious Inspector Belsize, and Alan Moorhouse delivered a fine performance as Olivia's bumbling but caring suitor Hubert. Sarah Oliver made a brief but lively appearance as Nurse Libby.

Caroline Norton portrayed the attention-seeking Mrs Bramson very capably, conveying both the character's demanding nature and her blind naivete towards Danny.

Brian Gillett, as the superficially agreeable Danny, gave an energetic and menacing performance in a very demanding role; and Helen Chesterman captured the anguish and uncertainty that plagued the sceptical Olivia.

Despite my concerns about the pace, this was a good opportunity to see a classic period thriller. The well-designed set, props, and lighting added considerably to the atmosphere, thanks to Keith Graham's backstage team, and directors Gill and John Coffin should be congratulated for trying something a little out of the ordinary.