Review: Night Must Fall, by Emlyn Williams, The Original Theatre Company in association with Salisbury Playhouse, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until October 22.

Will Featherstone as Dan and Gwen Taylor as Mrs Bramson in Night Must Fall at the New Wolsey Theatre

Will Featherstone as Dan and Gwen Taylor as Mrs Bramson in Night Must Fall at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Alastair Muir

Night Must Fall is a delicious, atmospheric contradiction. Written in 1934, it is clearly a product of its times. A world of faded wealth and privilege has been preserved in aspic in this lonely house on the edge of an isolated wood – and yet this is a psychological thriller with a very contemporary feel.

Will Featherstone as Dan and Niamh McGrady as Olivia in Night Must Fall at the New Wolsey Theatre

Will Featherstone as Dan and Niamh McGrady as Olivia in Night Must Fall at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Alastair Muir

Instead of being a traditional whodunnit, this is a play where the audience is fairly certain of the killer’s identity from an early stage but the real joy of the play can be found in exploring the relationships between the various personalities in the house and trying to second guess what the killer will do next.

Although written 80 years apart, in many ways this play has echoes of TV’s latest psychological thriller The Fall which features Night Must Fall’s cast member Niamh McGrady. Niamh plays Olivia, the neice of the selfish and headstrong Mrs Bramson, played with wonderful relish by Gwen Taylor.

Mrs Bramson suffers from a bewildering collection of ailments and demands to be waited on hand and foot by an extensive mix of household staff, family and friends. However, it swiftly becomes clear that perhaps Mrs Bramson may not be as ill as she makes out.

Into this hot-house of conflicting personalities comes Dan, the page boy, from local hotel The Tallboys, played with enigmatic charm by Will Featherstone. At first he seems to be the maid’s lover, but as he ingratiates his way into Mrs Bramson’s affections, it is clear that he is up to no good.


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This feeling of suspicion is increased when the police start searching the nearby woodland looking for a missing woman who was resident at The Tallboys.

This is a play rejoices in producing a dark, unsettling atmosphere that draws in its audience and refuses to let us go. The play is powered along by a trio of standout performances from Gwen Taylor, Niamh McGrady and Will Featherstone and helped by a pair of lively of comic performances from Mandi Symonds as Mrs Terence the Housekeeper and Anne Odeke as Nurse Libby.

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This is a wonderful piece of suspense theatre that keeps you engaged until the last moment and is delivered by some great actors who create believable characters rather than period clichés. Catch it if you can.

Andrew Clarke

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