REVIEW: Plenty of twists and turns in tight and gripping thriller

Emma's birthday, a scene from The Edge Of Darkness. Picture by Joe Mott
Emma's birthday, a scene from The Edge Of Darkness. Picture by Joe Mott

The Edge Of Darkness, Wivelsfield Little Theatre

Brian Clemens’ psychological thriller, The Edge Of Darkness, came to Wivelsfield recently via the Wivelsfield Little Theatre (WLT).

Brian Clemens is no stranger to this style of writing, having spent most of his career writing screenplays for TV shows like The Avengers and The Professionals.

A key aspect of any WLT production is their attention to detail and this was apparent even before the show started. As usual, the set, a late Victorian drawing room, was excellent and appeared solid and real. Also the programme was full and informative, this time offering biographies of the back-stage team, an often neglected and overlooked group.

The play is centred around the mysterious disappearance of Emma (Maxime Dudeney), the daughter of Max and Laura Cranwell (Paul Welch and Sarah Baldock) and her subsequent discovery in a hospital three years later.

Despite having no memory of her earlier life, she is bought back to the Cranwell’s home, staffed by Penny, the maid (Emily Whiteman) and the new servant, Hardy (Mike Towner) and, in this location, twist upon twist is presented to the audience.

Why is Hardy interrogating Emma so strongly? Why is Laura so jumpy? Who is the strange foreigner Livago (Kevin Kelly) who appears in Act 2 and seems to know Emma but by a different name?

Elizabeth Burton used her now well-known directing skills to shape these mysterious strands into a tight and gripping drama that kept the audience’s attention throughout, generating ‘oohs’ as the lights were lowered between scenes.

She was ably supported by a talented cast of both WLT established and new actors. Clever lighting and sound effects helped maintain the air of suspense.

I wish, though, that the gulls had been a little quieter.

Fortunately, the detective, supported by a police officer (Mike Taylor – leaving his usual lighting box to make a stage appearance) arrives on the scene at the end to explain what, why, who and how all aspects of the story fit together.

A very good evening’s entertainment.

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