Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Agatha Christie Style Murder Mystery On Tour
Written before the Second World War and to become the focus of two famous films, chilling thriller Night Must Fall is seeing a theatre revival with a new UK tour.
Suspense and thrills in Night Must Fall
I caught the production at Malvern Theatres, early on in the tour that continues to Cheltenham, York and Guildford outside London. As psychological thrillers go, Night Must Fall is a classic noir suspense that nicely builds up the tension and there are moments when you will be wishing you had a pillow to hide behind.
This story by Emlyn Williams dates back to 1935 so it has that Agatha Christie feel to it, but without the twists. It's more a study of a killer than a murder mystery with a dash of Hitchcock-style suspense - something that was ahead of its time when first published.
Night Must Fall is an old fashioned thriller
So much so that it has been made into a movie twice, originally starring Robert Montgomery in 1937 and then Albert Finney in 1964. Now it is back on stage for a UK tour brought by Salisbury Playhouse and The Original Theatre Company in association with Eastbourne Theatres.
It follows the arrival of young smooth-talking Dan at a remote woodland home where cantankerous old Mrs Bramson lives with her long-suffering niece Olivia and various household characters. When a local woman goes missing, police start to search the forest nearby and make a gruesome find.
Will Featherstone with Gwen Taylor as fine leads in Night Must Fall
Olivia can't help but feel that Dan is involved despite him becoming the apple of her aunt's eye. It cleverly starts off at a slow tempo and then gathers pace and momentum after the arrival of charming Dan, emphasising what a change his personality has on the atmosphere in the remote cottage and on this group of isolated, unhappy people.
Actor Will Featherstone plays Dan with a wonderful panache - fast-speaking, beguiling and attractive yet moody and menacing at the flick of a switch. Dan's character is central to everything so Featherstone's fine performance is the essence of making this play a success.
TV and film actress Gwen Taylor, recognisable from many a television series like Coronation Street, A Bit of a Do and Duty Free, is exceptionally good as moaning Mrs Bransom.
Night Must Fall is a play worth seeing
She plays the elderly recluse as a spiteful, self-centered and nasty woman but who also shows a tender, loving side to the attentive Dan.
The whole production makes for a well acted, classic thriller although the plot may seem like it lacks the twists, turns and gore of more modern mysteries. Despite that, it still has a charm about it that makes it a very watchable play.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Night Must Fall - UK Tour For further information, visit the tour website.
4 – 8 October 2016
Malvern Festival Theatre
17 – 22 October 2016
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
25 – 29 October 2016
Northcott Theatre, Exeter
1 – 5 November 2016
Palace Theatre, Southend
8 – 12 November 2016
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
15 – 19 November 2016
York Theatre Royal
29 November – 3 December 2016
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford