The Grange Player’s production of Edith in the Dark at the Grange Playhouse really captured the darker recesses of E.Nesbit’s mind, a dramatically different portrayal to the happy and innocent figure she is generally perceived to be.
A couple of rocky moments notwithstanding (due to opening night nerves, no doubt!), this was a thrilling piece from start to finish. Any production with a cast of only three is always going to be a challenge, yet Samantha Allan (Nesbit herself), Lynne Young (Biddy Thricefold), and Rob Meehan (the mysterious Mr Guasto) should pride themselves on the creativity and skill with which they so fluidly became the other minor characters.
A flurry of changing accents, mannerisms and, at times, gender-swapping was executed well, creating great entertainment in the more humorous parts and an uneasy sense of foreboding in the more intense. The stories-within-the-play were especially dramatic, with good interaction between the three actors, and an especially enjoyable performance given by Lynne Young in her role as Cobbs.
Humour was generally used to good effect, asides to the audience and the occasional breaking of the fourth wall providing a sense of relief to the audience at darker moments, although sometimes this felt slightly out of place with the intense atmosphere built up by the action preceding and following it.
Lighting and music were wonderfully designed to give the audience a sense of unease from the word go. Flickering lights, eerie silhouettes, haunting musical renditions of familiar songs along with the incongruous animated chatter of the party ‘behind the scenes’ kept the audience on edge, never quite letting them relax and keeping them engaged with the story.
Under the good direction by Rachel Waters, once the mood was set it was mostly kept there. The underlying darkness of the play was always quietly bubbling away; ready to lead the audience into a false sense of security following the darker sub-stories, before throwing them straight back into dramatic plot twists as new stories from Nesbit’s past came to light.
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