When Darkness Falls REVIEW: A terrifying supernatural play that works well.
Another week, another phantom performance. Paul Morrissey and James Milton’s two-hander about a local historian and his mystery guest follows in the footsteps of Danny Robins’ screamathon 2.22 A Ghost Story last week.
John Blondel (Will Barton) is attempting to record his weekly Vlog on local history and folklore in a crowded office in Guernsey while waiting for his guest, a young man who has made a study of paranormal phenomena. To put it another way, a ghost hunter.
The Speaker (Alex Phelps), drenched from the rain, arrives with a pale gaunt physique and slightly off-kilter diction that suggests he is more — or less — than he appears.
He relates five ghost stories that disturb and unnerve his inquisitor after exchanging sharp banter with the skeptic Blondel.
The basic device is the usual cliché of ghost stories from MR James onwards, and the play is very much in the style of these.
The effects – lightning, flickering lights, unexpected appearances in torchlight, books falling from shelves of their own accord, and blackouts – are well-worn, but performed with a delicacy and timing that is eerily effective.
The environment is well-kept, yet a growing sense of discomfort pervades the room.
It’s a welcome addition to a genre that’s as insubstantial as ectoplasm, given the scarcity of supernatural plays since Shakespeare and the Jacobeans – The Ghost Train, Blithe Spirit, Ghost Story, Darker Shores, and The Woman in Black, to name a few.