It was enormously refreshing to be sitting down on the opening night of Murder In The Dark in a full Oxford Playhouse to watch something entirely new.
No one had any idea what the thriller would entail, but as the title suggests, something scary, ghostly, and psychological was on the cards.
‘It only took a barn door to slam, a light to flicker, or the TV to turn on, to get the audience gasping, jumping and squealing in terror’
Turns out Murder In The Dark is a whodunnit with a captive (and brilliant) cast all sheltering at a lonely farmhouse in the middle-of-nowhere after a car crash. So far so Agatha Christie. But that’s where the similarity ends.
Because there are also some absurd, surprising and brilliant segments of humour, a few songs, romance, and soul-searching along the way, thrown in for good measure.
Based around faded boy band star Danny (played so convincingly by Tom Chambers (READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH TOM HERE), who has evidently sold his soul to the devil, as the extent of his addiction to fame, alcohol, drugs, and everything he sacrificed on the way is slowly revealed.
Made even more acute by the presence of his uncomfortably young and aspiring girlfriend Sarah (Laura White), his angry young man of a son Jake (Jonny Green), his ex-wife Rebecca (Rebecca Charles) and his estranged brother William (Owen Oakeshott), it’s a disaster waiting to happen if there ever is one.
The plot sets off at a cracking pace as the ill-fated party is rescued by the strange, inappropriate and often hilarious farmer Mrs Bateman, played so convincingly by Susie Blake, who may, or may not have poisoned her own husband.
The tension is evident from the word go aided by the intermittent lighting, lonely set, flickering TV set, lack of any technology, and ghostly apparitions, which keep us all on the edge of our seats from the go get.
‘A jarring, fatalistic, traumatising, riveting and unique new thriller’
It only took a barn door to slam, a light to flicker, or the TV to turn on, to get the audience gasping, jumping and even squealing in terror, the tension ratcheting up like a pressure cooker.
You won’t find any spoilers here, but suffice to say writer Torben Bett tightens the screws in the second half as the cast, audience and Danny himself are carried along hopelessly in this quest for the truth.
A jarring, fatalistic, traumatising, riveting and unique new thriller, akin to the likes of 2:22 A Ghost Story.
So if you fancy an evening of being scared out of your wits, then Murder In The Dark is for you. But get in quick because there are limited seats left.
Murder In The Dark is at Oxford Playhouse until Saturday September 30. Book at https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/murder-in-the-dark