|The Minuteman Chronicle||
Thur, February 20, 1992
|'Night Must Fall' a chilling tour de force|
|By Mary Ann Faughnan|
The Concord Players create an uneasy mood of escalating tensions in their current production of Emlyn Williams' "Night Must Fall."
Set in an English country house in 1935, the play explores how the already strained emotions of the house's inhabitants are pushed to the breaking point when a brutal murder occurs nearby.
Mrs. Bramson, the owner of the house, is a qwuerulous widow who plays up imagined infirmities to get attention. Betsy White portrays the character nicely, showing believable contrasts between the old woman's haughty treatment of her servants and her prim attitude toward her spinsterish niece, Olivia.
Played by Ellen Daschbach, Olivia is all repressed emotion -- a staid and respectable young lady yearning for adventure and excitement in any form. She considers an engagement to a local, tweedy suitor (convincingly played by Terry Coe), byt finds him "and unmitigated bore."
When the police begine searching for a missing woman in a rubbish pit outside the house, Olivia can hardly contain her curiosity about the morbid event. At that point, the action is complicated by the arrival of Dan, a roguish shopboy who has gotten the house maid pregnant -- and it turns out Dan had known the missing woman.
Deftly played by Derek Nelson, Dan is a consummate liar. He charms his way into the cantankerous Mrs. Bramson's heart and stays on at the house as a handyman. Olivia finds herself both attracted and frightened by him, and early on begins to suspect him of committing the murder. She watches his every move as the police continue their investigations outside the house. Dan responds to her inquisitiveness with provocative remarks that exascerbate Olivia's inner turmoil.
Some nice character performances support the major roles. Mikki Lipsey and Tara Stepanian, respectively, bring the long-suffering cook and hapless maid fully to life. John McAuliffe, as Inspector Belsize of Scotland Yard, adds a quiet touch to the proceedings with a performance that suggests he is getting closer and closer to solving the crime every minute. And in the role of Nurse Libby, who must contend with Mrs. Bramson's imagined ailments, Heidi Kuehn is the epitome of brisk British efficiency and humor.
The play is melodramatic by today's standards, but it is helped by the direction of Andrea Southwick, and by the actors who all treeat it respectully. The sets and costumes are attractive, and the subdued lighting helps to set the mood.
The Feb 15 performance was paced a little slow, and as a result some of the tension was lost. Also some of the accents were difficult to decipher in the back half of the hall, but overall this production is nicely done and provides a pleasant evening's diversion.