Review: The Edge of Darkness, Chellaston Players

1ddccacb70-EOD Poster 2-page-001 (2)If you are off to watch a thriller called The Edge of Darkness you pretty much know what to expect. A remote house, maybe set near a cliff, a mysterious stranger at the door and a charming but bumbling maid.

Yes Brian Clemens’ play is a tad clichéd but it is also a jolly good night – gripping from the first scene and packed with suspense.

The Chellaston Players, who are staging the play at St Peter’s Church Hall this week, certainly lived up to their reputation of putting on a great show.

I hadn’t seen it before and didn’t check out how the story unfolds ahead of joining the audience so I could enjoy the intrigue.

Set in the early years of the last century the plot centres on Laura (Cathy Wilson) and Max Cranwell (Bill Ramsbottom) who are bringing their long-lost daughter Emma home after finding her in a Dublin convent suffering from total amnesia. Or is she? And are they quite what they seem?

The couple playing the parents rediscovering their lost daughter were totally convincing and there are only subtle hints that all is not quite right in their isolated home.

Danni Arme who played Emma deserves many plaudits for her performance – especially when she was sleepwalking or fighting with the confusion in her mind.

A natural on the stage was Charlotte Dodds as the dotty maid Penny who held the production together with her perfect timing and witty one-liners.

Her scenes with the new mystery manservant Hardy played by Ben Smith were charming and he too put a lot of energy into his part.

The standout performance for me was by Lee Brown who played Livago the evil Russian assassin. His presence on the stage brought a new pace to the proceedings and he certainly gave it a sharper edge.

However the actor who was definitely the audience’s favourite was Phil Hodgkiss who played Wiggins. A small part but one he carried off with style. Perfect casting by the director Elaine Lawrenson.

The production team was Matt Sharratt stage manager, John Howarth lighting, with help from Adam Tempest and Gareth Roberts, Elaine Lawrenson and John Howarth set design, Elaine Madden properties, Flora Palmer and Elaine Lawrenson costumes, Maggie McNally ticket sales, Emma Bridges programme and artwork, Bill Ramsbottom, Laura Howarth and Ben Smith publicity and Laura Howarth front of house.

The play is being performed at the church hall at 7.30pm tonight and tomorrow Saturday.