Murder In The Dark

"More twists and turns than a rollercoaster!"

"Murder in the Dark" by Torben Betts is a gripping and suspenseful play that plunges its audience into a world of mystery and intrigue from the very first moment the lights go out. Set in a secluded farmhouse during a stormy New Years Eve night, the play unfolds as a rather disjointed family find themselves trapped in a web of secrets, lies, and murder after a car accident leaves them stranded on their way home from a funeral. As the darkness deepens and tensions rise, the characters' pasts and hidden motivations come to light, leading to an enthralling and deadly game of cat and mouse. With Betts' masterful storytelling and clever twists, "Murder in the Dark" takes its audience on a thrilling journey through the darkest recesses of the human psyche.

The eccentric owner of the farmhouse is played spectacularly by Susie Blake.  With the perfect balance of humour and unease, Blake is able to provide a chilling experience every time she appears on stage. Tom Chambers plays Nigel Carmichael, a failed pop star known as Danny back in his heyday who is front and centre of the whole story.  I will obviously not provide any spoilers, as the twists and turns are quite thrilling and worthy of anyone seeing the show unaware of what is about to unfold, however Chambers’ portrayal of this troubled man, with many secrets, is mesmerising as the tension builds to its climax.

Ably assisted by Rebecca Charles (Rebecca), Jonny Green (Jake), Owen Oakeshott (William) and Laura White (Sarah) this is an ensemble piece where every character has their moment as we delve into their individual stories.  Even though this is a relatively short play (90 minutes), I felt as though the writing enabled us to become invested in each character as the story developed.  Ultimately, it’s a story of greed for fame and fortune, the ups and downs of family life and being held accountable for your actions.

As a child, I think we all remember the game ‘Murder In The Dark’, however what would life be like if that still haunted you and left you with a real inane fear of the dark.  This was highlighted throughout the show with many moments of the electrics being blown at the farmhouse and the stage being plunged into darkness.  With the clever use of mobile phone torches that illuminated the characters, the atmosphere was yet again uneasy but drew you closer into the action.  There are many ‘jump scare’ moments throughout this show and it has a supernatural element that you may consider similar to 2:22 A Ghost Story.   Director Philip Franks has been able to balance these moments well and the eery feel to certain scenes were real goosebump moments. 

During the second half as a pivotal moment was revealed, the gasp from the audience reverberated around the auditorium cementing the fact that everyone was completely engrossed in the show, another clever piece of writing from Torben Betts, as no-one was expecting it…..again no spoilers from me!

If I had any criticism of the show, it would be down to sound and set.  As the play started it was really difficult to hear some of the dialogue and I was relatively close to the stage, so I’m unsure how people further away faired.  A simple increase in microphone volume would have helped immensely so not to miss specific parts of the story.  The set, designed by Simon Kenny was slightly restricting unless you were sat head on to the stage.  As we were sat slightly to the side the view was slightly hindered as the farmhouse setting did not take up the whole width of the stage and used some of the stage as the ‘wings’ covered over with black curtains.  I didn’t quite understand this choice and it felt that we missed the overall view, although the action did mainly take place in the centre.

Having no prior knowledge of this show or the story, I was pleasantly surprised, if not a little spooked at the quality of the writing and the many twists and turns that we encountered.  Not for the faint hearted, but definitely worth a visit.

This show was reviewed on the 7th November 2023.  Murder In The Dark runs at The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham until the Murder in the Dark Tickets | The Alexandra, Birmingham in Birmingham | ATG Tickets

Full tour details can be found here: Our Productions - Original Theatre

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Photo credit: Pamela Raith

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