DARKNESS, DARKNESS: John Harvey.
Nottingham Playhouse. to 15 October 2016
Runs: 2h 20m: one interval: till 15th October.
Performance times: 7.45pm.
Review: Alan Geary: 4th October, 2016.
Interesting but not entirely successful adaptation of the book.
Adapted by John Harvey from his book of the same name, Darkness, Darkness is the final thriller of the Resnick series. And it’s set well and truly in Nottinghamshire. Far from being one of those whodunnits where wooden characters are moved about like chess pieces to serve the demands of a convoluted plot, it’s quite the reverse. The central problem is relatively small beer.
The body of Jenny (Elizabeth Twells), an activist who disappeared without trace during the 1984/85 miners’ strike, is discovered thirty years later. Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick (David Fleeshman), shortly due to retire from the force, is roped in to help bright young colleague Catherine Njoroge (Simone Saunders) find out who killed her.
But we care far more about Resnick’s tragic back story, for instance, and the violently problematic nature of Catherine’s love life, which have no direct bearing on the murder.
Characters are realistic: no extraordinary demands are placed on the actors, so it can be and is an evening of measured performance. It hardly matters that there isn’t a genuine Nottinghamshire accent to be had.
It’s a clever, empty set, from which pockets of realism – a kitchen, a sitting room, and interrogation room – somehow appear as required from inside it. The world-weary jazzy background sound (jazz is Resnick’s chief interest) is important. So is the back projection, much of it eighties footage, which opens out the action when necessary.
It’s an annoying, and recurring, paradox in all anti-Thatcher plays about the miners’ strike. One of the men – in this one it’s Peter (Chris Donnelly) – who was fighting for a future in coal for his children and his children’s children, dies coughing his lungs up with pneumoconiosis. Resnick goes to his funeral.
This is a joint Nottingham Playhouse/New Perspectives production
Danny Ireland: John Askew.
Peter Waites/Barry Hardwick: Chris Donnelly.
Charlie Resnick: David Fleeshman.
Keith Haines: Martin Miller.
Catherine Njoroge: Simone Saunders.
Jill Haines: Emma Thornett.
Jenny Hardwick: Elizabeth Twells.
Adam Uttley: Jonathan Woolf.
Director: Jack McNamara.
Designer: Ruth Sutcliffe.
Lighting Designer: Azusa Ono.
Sound Designer: Drew Baumohl.
Projection Designer: William Simpson.
Voice Coach: Kat Hicks.