Murder In The Dark at The Alexandra Birmingham | Until Saturday November 11.
Set within the claustrophobic confines of an isolated holiday cottage, Torben Betts’ Murder In The Dark offers an exploration of human failings as it blends dark humour, murder mystery and social commentary. It’s New Year’s Eve when a car crash on a deserted road brings former pop idol, now troubled alcoholic Danny Sierra (Tom Chambers) and his dysfunctional family to the door of Mrs Bateman (Susie Blake). As the evening unfolds and tensions rise, inexplicable events occur and past secrets are revealed
It’s tale of chaos, unravelling relationships and unexpected twists; a study of human nature as each character bares their own flaws. Chambers and Blake are very watchable, thanks to their one-liners and fast-paced exchanges. However, the play’s aim to strike a balance between humour and darkness often felt forced and at times the transitions struggled to find their footing.
The set design and lighting (by Simon Kenny and Paul Pyant) deserve special mention. The country cottage is meticulously recreated on stage, providing a bleak backdrop for the unfolding drama, and the use of iPhone torches adds to the eerie atmosphere.
The title hints at the suspenseful and mysterious elements of the play, yet it’s not a traditional murder mystery in the sense of a classic “whodunit”. Rather it’s an attempt to dissect the darkness that lurks within us, as the events that transpire over the course of the evening holds up a mirror to the ugly side of family politics.
The issue for me though is the theme of human frailties is a very well-trodden path. Yes, the characters are introduced as potentially intriguing personalities, but I felt Murder In The Dark missed the mark when it came to offering fresh insights or a unique perspective.
Tickets are available for performances through to Saturday November 11 here.