THE BLACK VEIL: John Goodrum.
Palace Theatre: Tkts 01623 633133 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Runs: 1h 45m: one interval.
Touring Information: Bruce James Productions Ltd.
Review: Alan Geary: 10th March 2011.
Doesn’t deliver on its initial promise.
The Black Veil started life as a short story by Charles Dickens, a slight piece, one of his Sketches By Boz. For this stage version John Goodrum has made the plot more complicated.
Sadly, despite the best efforts of Bruce James Productions (the director is James himself), it doesn’t really work; it’s over stretched. Certainly in the first half, it’s too wordy and static; and even after the break, when the action ratchets up, there’s not enough meat for a full-length play.
Initially, in terms of the action and by way of some disturbing sound effects, it promises a lot.
This is 1830s London. An impoverished young doctor – he’s just starting out on his career – is visited late one evening by an apparently elderly woman with a Dickensian working-class accent. At first that’s all we know about her – she’s covered from head to foot in a creepy black veil. You settle back to be scared.
But Goodrum doesn’t deliver on his promise. It’s a thriller but it’s not sufficiently thrilling. And it descends into implausible melodrama. This is despite the fact that performances from Nick Murphy, as The Man – he’s a coward; if there was any sand about it would be kicked in his face – Jen Holt, as The Woman, who’s clearly crazed, and Nick Barclay (Luke) are more than adequate.
A serviceable set was designed by Geoff Gilder, well known to Thriller Season audiences in the Nottingham area.
The Man: Nick Murphy.
The Woman: Jen Holt.
Luke: Nick Barclay.
Director: Bruce James.
Set Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Geoff Gilder.
Sound Designer: David Gilbrook.