Dan and Mrs Bramson

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

Night Must Fall

Malvern Theatres

****

AS psychological thrillers go, Night Must Fall is a classic noir suspense that nicely builds up the tension.

This story by Emlyn Williams dates back to 1935 so it has that Agatha Christie feel to it, but without the twists.

It's more a study of a killer than a murder mystery with a dash of Hitchcock style suspense - something that was ahead of its time when first published.

So much so that it has been made into a movie twice, originally starring Robert Montgomery in 1937 and then Albert Finney in 1964. Now it is back on stage for a UK tour brought by Salisbury Playhouse and The Original Theatre Company in association with Eastbourne Theatres.

It follows the arrival of young smooth-talking Dan at a remote woodland home where cantankerous old Mrs Bramson lives with her long suffering niece Olivia and various household characters.

Olivia can't help but feel that Dan is involved in something despite him becoming the apple of her aunt's eye.

It cleverly starts off at a slow tempo and then gathers pace and momentum after the arrival of charming Dan, emphasising what a change his personality has on the atmosphere and to this group of isolated, unhappy bunch of people.

Actor Will Featherstone plays Dan with a wonderful panache - fast-speaking, beguiling and attractive yet moody and menacing at the flick of a switch. Dan's character is central to everything so Featherstone's fine performance is the essence of making this play a success. TV and film actress Gwen Taylor (of many a TV show like Bit of a Do and Duty Free) is exceptionally good as moaning Mrs Bransom.

She plays the elderly recluse as a spiteful, self-centred and nasty woman but who also shows a tender, loving side to the attentive Dan.

It makes for a well-acted, classic thriller although the plot may seem like it lacks the twists, turns and gore of more modern mysteries.

Despite that, it still has a charm about it that makes it a very watchable play. To 08-10-16

Alison Brinkworth

05-10-16

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