When Darkness Falls ★★★★ Park Theatre | Aug 18 - Sep 4, 2021


As thunder clapped and lights suddenly blacked out, the seriously scary ghost stories of When Darkness Falls had the audience jumping out of their seats. The plot seems simple: a historian, John, is recording a vlog with an unnamed guest speaker. We are told a number of tales dating back several centuries, all of which take place on Guernsey and end in gruesome deaths. At times, the play which is written by James Milton and Paul Morrissey (who also directs) comes off as a bit cumbersome but it is generally well constructed. We won't spoil the fun by revealing too much, but there are certainly a couple of clever twists. The story takes a little while to get into its stride but when it does, it really works superbly well. The cluttered set by Justin Williams, plus lighting and sound by Bethany Gupwell and John Bulleid, all help create the ideal atmosphere. Will Barton convincingly plays the historian and several other characters while Alex Phelps' Speaker shoulders the bulk of the narrative. Barton makes the most of the lighter moments before becoming increasingly discombobulated by events. Phelps succeeds in a more difficult task: he manages to appear slightly detached while manipulating the speech patterns of his dialogue to create an otherworldly effect. Indeed, when he is telling a particularly chilling tale, his hushed tones are eerily beautiful and in perfect harmony with the story. The mixture of history and folklore creates excellent theatre, and could well make it into the West End. Who knows – When Darkness Falls – anything can happen.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Pamela Raith.

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