Tuesday, 4 October 2016

"Darkness Darkness" by John Harvey.
Nottingham Playhouse.
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave. When first we practise to deceive!" A quote that could be weaved into this play, and how wonderfully paced this play did unweave itself.
Being new to the detective Charlie Resnick as well as the author, john Harvey, this final book from Harvey, this play has left me wanting to know more and read more about the detective.
Set against the backdrop of the miner's strikes of the 1980's, a young woman disappeared. Thirty years on a body is discovered and brings Resnick out of virtual retirement and back into the front line to assist in the investigation into her murder – forcing him to confront his past. This, quite literally, brings back the ghosts from his past that he had once put to bed.
Jazz loving Resnick (David Fleeshman) joins forces with the new girl on the block, DI Catherine Njoroge (Simone Saunders), to solve the murder mystery of Jenny Hardwick (Elizabeth Twells), the wife of militant miner, Barry (Chris Donnelly).
Jenny befriended one of the pickets, Danny Ireland (John Askew) and starts an affair with him until she broke it off. Was this excuse enough to kill her? Why did Danny leave the country for Canada?Was Barry's suspicions aroused enough to put two and two together? Or was there someone else within the family who had a reason to want her dead? If so, what possible reason could there be? Her sister Jill? (Emma Thornett), her brother in law and ex policeman, Keith? (Martin Miller). 
This is one very stylish thriller which manages to flesh out the characters' backgrounds to give you an idea of what kind of people they were, making it a realistic portrayal of the characters from the novels. This worked really well in the case of DI Catherine and her ex boyfriend, Adam (Jonathan Woolf) who turned up the slow burn of their defunct relationship from their first reunion.
Apart from the excellent story and acting, two things really stood out for me and made this a play well worth going to see. The lighting was excellent and very atmospheric, creepy at times.
The second was the contained set and sliding screens, making the scene changes very smooth. They gave the flashback sections a reality which did away with the often clumsiness which can often occur with flashback scenes on stage. The cinematography gave true history to the flashbacks and also brought the stark reality to the image of police brutality and the miner's fight.
The contained set approached from the back of the stage and provided several settings within the main setting. This meant that what you saw was very much like the scene changes from a film or a TV show, again creating fluidity and ease of viewing.
I loved the music of Thelonius Monk and Billie Holiday, played as a backdrop to the story, giving the whole feel a film noir atmosphere.
Set in Nottingham with many Nottinghamshire landmarks mentioned, it was the accent that was the only thing which slightly jarred for me. Some of the accent was, for me, what I think someone from outside of Nottingham may think the accent would sound like, in parts slightly over the top. in other characters, the accent sounded naturally Nottingham. Then again, me duck, coming from Nottingham me sen, I'd notice wunt ah? 
As I said, this is one very classy and stylised piece of theatre which any murder mystery buff will relish seeing, irrespective of whether you've heard of Charlie Resnick or not.
"Darkness Darkness" will bring a welcome light into your life at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 15 October 2016..... and by the way i guessed who dunnit but i still loved the whole build up and reveal.

Photos courtesy of Robert Day.

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