Murder in the Dark – Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

Writer: Torben Betts

Director: Philip Franks

With a renaissance in all things paranormal, due in no small part to Danny Robins 2:22 A Ghost Story and his phenomenally successful podcast and subsequent TV series Uncanny, audiences appear to have an insatiable appetite for all things spooky. Torben Betts’ Murder in the Dark should be a welcome addition to the scary cannon.

It’s New Year’s Eve and faded rock star Danny Sierra (Tom Chambers) and his hugely dysfunctional family crash their car on a lonely country road in rural England. They seek shelter in the isolated holiday cottage of Mrs. Bateman (Susie Blake).

The first act is a slow burn that trowels on the back story of self-obsessed Danny: blind ambition estranging him from those closest to him. And at what cost? A few throw-away hits then life consigned to the has-been pile. Unfortunately, so far so predictable. There are few scares and fewer surprises in the writing.

The second act lays bare more issues from Danny’s fractured family: his childhood traumas, his alcoholic demons. Some more traditional horror tropes appear but lack the cleverness or ambition to genuinely deliver the much-needed jump scares.

Chambers own delivery is heightened throughout, always on the edge of hysteria, which robs the action of the necessary fright factor. Susie Blake’s endlessly chattering Mrs. Bateman, fares better. Never quite knowing what dark secrets she is hiding behind the babble – is she more than she appears?

The rest of the ensemble cast are solid enough, though one must question the directorial choices of Philip Franks as the whole thing plays a bit ‘panto’. Owen Oakeshott as Danny’s estranged brother William and Rebecca Charles’ ex-wife Rebecca cope best with the material given.

Murder in the Dark no doubt aims to prey on the universal fear of what lies in the shadows while examining the consequences of our selfish actions on those we love. Frustratingly, there’s so much potential here but it’s a muddled mess lacking in focus and the ending is clearly signalled if you’ve been paying attention or have watched another recent, modern ghost story. With spooky works of quality currently doing the rounds, Murder in the Dark just can’t compete and that’s hugely disappointing.

Runs until 30 March 2024 | Image: Pamela Raith

The Reviews Hub Score

Fails to fulfil its potential

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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