Mrs Bransom and Dan

Gwen Taylor as Mrs Bramson and Will Featherstone as Dan. Picture: Alastair Muir

Night Must Fall

Belgrade Theatre

****

This well-known Emlyn Williams story, made into a film twice and produced in London’s West end and Broadway, is a deep, dark tale of murder most foul.

It is perhaps hitting a new generation for the first time, and well worth the revival since it covers the psychology of murder in a distinct and unusual way, not simply by telling us he facts of ‘how’ but more the ‘why’.

It is, in many ways, a catalogue of the making of a psychopath and makes interesting viewing.

Ageing, well-heeled invalid Mrs Branson (Gwen Taylor) has a myriad of acolytes dancing attendance on her every whim. There’s impoverished but intellectual niece Olivia (Niamh McGrady), her unsuitable suitor Hubert (Alasdair Buchan), earthy housekeeper Mrs Terence (Mandi Symonds), maid Dora (Melissa Vaughan) and nurse Libby (Anne Odeke).

Dan (Will Featherstone) joins this motley band from The Tallboys down the road where interest in a woman missing from The TallBoys, potentially a murder victim, consumes the neighbourhood.

Inspector Belsize (Daragh O’Malley) from Scotland Yard is on the case and, when the woman’s body is found on Mrs Branson’s rubbish heap, the brains of the Yard start looking at the inhabitants and their various foibles.

Olivia is the first to question the newcomer Dan who has inveigled his way into Mrs Branson’s good books with a mixture of solicitous attention bordering on sycophancy and pure charm. Olivia is so firm in her assumption that he is the murderer that looking anywhere else seems a waste. However, she isn’t necessarily right!  And, as audience, we join the other characters in questioning her motives and her evidence which is scant to say the least.

This is a really interesting play from The Original Theatre Company/Salisbury Playhouse and well worth a look, though the first half was a bit on the dull side and it was often hard to tell if the music that came through was intentional, the second half more than made up for it with pure drama. To 01-10-16.

Jane Howard

28-09-16 

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