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Murder in the Dark | The Lowry

Self-proclaimed as “a spine-chilling ghost story, turned psychological thriller," Murder in the Dark asks us to keep future audiences in the dark by the spreading the word, yet not the spoilers - but does it live up to its own expectations?

In the middle of nowhere, it’s New Year’s Eve and has-been singer Danny Sierra (Tom Chambers) and his family, crash their vehicle and are offered solace in isolated cottage on the farm of Mrs Bateman (Susie Blake). As time passes by, it’s clear that all is not as it seems with sequences of inexplicable events.

From acclaimed writer Torben Betts and directed by Philip Franks, this play has amalgamated a variety of well-known horror tropes which, on paper, would be a horror fan’s dream. However, this somewhat disappointingly leans the piece towards cliche. Whether or not it was inspired by other popular productions, it added nothing new to the genre and seemed to recycle the niche elements of certain productions - often resulting in a mild case of identity crisis.

From the lifting of the curtain, the sound levels in the theatre were more a murmur in the dark. Even from the stalls, it was difficult to hear the opening dialogue and although this was rectified as the piece progressed, sound design felt very one note. The jump scare moments were usually fuelled by an unexpected noise - though this fell flat due to a sheer lack of volume - causing the on-stage visuals to lose some of their spectacle and become borderline comical… just not where the humour was necessarily intended.

This being said, the better parts of the book were, ironically, the comedic moments (in fact, upon leaving the theatre, I wondered if I’d watched a satirical production.) Susie Blake delivers a killer performance as Mrs Bateman. Her versatility as an actor shone with each line and showed the eccentricity of her character through pure, well-crafted comedic skill. Impressively, most of the cast held their own and were able to exude their portrayals strongly. Unfortunately, there were some wooden moments which took some of naturalism away from the delivery and thereby broke down some of the illusion being created on stage.

Set design by Simon Kenny worked well with lighting by Paul Pyant. Although stationary for most of the production, the use of shadow and the torches on mobile phones were well used and added dimension to the piece. Though, when watching a show with ‘in the dark’ in its title, it begs the question - where was the darkness? With much of the set dimly luminated throughout, there was a real sense of missed opportunity here.

Overall, a fun night at theatre was had with comical one-liners leaving the audience laughing out loud throughout. However, although it had all of the jigsaw pieces ready and waiting to make it a standout ghost story on stage, in comparison to its peers, it didn’t quite reach the bar that it had so highly set for itself.

Murder in the Dark is running at The Lowry, Salford until Saturday 27th January, more information can be found here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography provided by The Lowry


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