Does the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub’s latest production match the high standard of its esteemed predecessors? Vera Mikusch delivers her final verdict on ‘Benighted’…
Benighted is a whole lot of everything. Focusing on a group of travellers trapped in a secluded mansion house in Wales on a stormy night, it is a work of, by turns, comedy, tragedy and most notably psychological horror.
Its storyline started life as a 1927 novel of the same name by J.B. Priestley, one of the first major haunted house psychodramas. Now it has got its world premiere as a staged play at the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub, directed by Stephen Whitson.
The play’s characters are multi-dimensional. From their first appearance to their last, each one of them is vividly depicted and the audience knows that there is a thorough background story, even if we do not get to hear it straight away.
But it’s largely thanks to the great directing and acting that the personalities of these constructs are so brilliantly realised. From the exhausted marriage of Phillip (Tom Machell) and Margaret Waverton (Harrie Hayes) to the love triangle between Roger Penderel (Matt Maltby), William Porterhouse (Ross Forder) and Gladys Du Cane (Jessica Bay), every moment tells us something.
Although the play is not based on true events, there is some serious social criticism going on here, as is to be expected from a Priestley tale, with its narrative providing an interesting look into the consequences of war on society. Here and there Priestley’s own experience with the First World War shine through, which makes the horror within the play feel real.
However, while there are jumpy scenes that give proper goose-bumps, there is also plenty of dry humour to make the audience laugh out loud. As such, the play is guaranteed to satisfy both horror fans and people sceptical about scary stories. A Christmas play of its own kind, Benighted is definitely worth a watch!
Benighted will run until January 7 at the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub – book tickets here and be sure to let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter…