NIGHT MUST FALL
by Emlyn Williams.
Theatre Royal Theatre Square NG1 5ND To 15 August 2015.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 5pm and 8pm.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0115 989 5555
Review: Alan Geary 10 August.
Thriller Season or no Thriller Season, an excellent production of an excellent play.
From time to time Nottingham’s Thriller Season comes up with a play that hits you with its excellence. Night Must Fall by Emlyn Williams, written and set in 1935, is the sort of psychological drama that stands up as an outstanding piece, thriller season or no thriller season. One can enjoy the knockabout inconsequentiality of your average thriller, but this one’s more than just ephemeral fun.
Happily, this particular production is correspondingly excellent. There’s no sending up of the genre, no tongue-in-cheek stuff, no sidelong looks at the audience; it’s played straight, with classy acting from everyone. It’s the antidote to Durbridge. We get lots of funny moments, but nobody calls anyone else Darling, and there’s no strategically placed drinks table upstage.
Tyrannical old hypochondriac, Mrs Bramson (Karen Henson), lives in an isolated cottage with niece/carer Olivia Grayne (Sarah Wynne Kordas), frumpy and lonely, and a couple of female servants. Hubert Laurie (Andrew Ryan), is continually asking Olivia, who thinks him a bore, to marry him.
It’s all change when the enigmatic Dan (David Osmond), who’s impregnated Mrs Bramson’s maid, moves in. Furthermore Inspector Belsize (Robert Laughlin) starts calling, in connection with an attractive woman who’s gone missing from the nearby hotel.
Henson brings out the selfishness, tetchiness and, sometimes, soft-heartedness of her character brilliantly. Ryan never allows the foolish Laurie to slip into the silly ass of English farce. And Laughlin’s copper is far more believable than an all gestures and business stage caricature.
Wynne Kordas, in what might be her best thriller performance for years, is entirely convincing as an unfulfilled woman whose affections shift in unforeseen directions. The part calls for subtlety and Kordas delivers.
As Dan, Osmond brings out the insinuating Welsh menace of his man. There’s a slightly crazed, slightly camp quality, blended with a sickly insincerity about Dan’s performance that’s just right. He’s covering something up; exactly what isn’t clear. There’s also what seems to be a seething class fury just below the surface.
Why doesn’t this piece come round more often? It’s a reminder of how deeply entertaining a well-made play can be.
Mrs Bramson: Karen Henson.
Olivia Grayne: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Hubert Laurie: Andrew Ryan.
Mrs Terence: Susan Earnshaw.
Dora Parkoe: Anna Mitcham.
Inspector Belsize: Robert Laughlin.
Dan: David Osmond.
Director: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Designer/Costumes: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Michael Donoghue.
Sound: David Gilbrook.