JAMES Milton and Paul Morrissey’s play When Darkness Falls (not to be confused with either film of the same name), is set on the island of Guernsey and said to be based on true events.
It comes to Yeovil as part of a national tour, after a short run in 2020 with a different cast. The current performers are Peter Duncan playing a historian, teacher and fledgling podcaster and Daniel Rainford as his guest.
It’s a stormy night in the ramshackle office/studio where the historian is waiting for his visitor, a young man who believes in ghosts. The book and filing cabinet-lined room is lit by flickering, fizzing old lights and they are not best served by the fluctuations of an electricity supply threatened by the storm.
So the scene is set for tension when the young man arrives, drenched, and embarks on his four stories, each drawn from local history and each darker than the last.
As with all touring shows, the set has to take its place in a number of different theatres, and I felt that in the wide open spaces of the Octagon (and of Salisbury Playhouse next week) the intensity is diluted and the complicated soundscape confused. There were a couple of times when it was impossible to hear the dialogue over the sound effects, a problem also encountered from those at the front of the auditorium.
When Darkness Falls brings the classic ghost story, with its inexplicable falling furniture and opening drawers, into the 21st century, with its “podcast” format and ultra-realistic performance by Daniel Rainford. Former Blue Peter presenter and Chief Scout Peter Duncan has made a career on stage and here plays the older man, whose blustering scepticism has its own agenda.
It is horrifying – all the more so because there are elements of historical accuracy in the story. But I can’t help feeling that there IS a very good play in here, waiting to get out.
When Darkness Falls is at Yeovil until 22nd September, at the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th September and at Salisbury Playhouse from 27th September to 1st October as part of its national tour.