Murder in the Dark Review

Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge – until Saturday 10th February 2024

Reviewed by Steph Lott


A Gripping Thriller Unfolds in “Murder in the Dark” at Cambridge Arts Theatre

The allure of being scared is deeply rooted in our psychology and “Murder in the Dark,” a riveting horror penned by Torben Betts, delivers that, under the expert direction of Philip Franks. Set against the backdrop of a secluded country dwelling, Simon Kenny’s ingeniously crafted set transports the audience into a dark confusing world of suspense and impending doom.  With standout performances by Susie Blake as Mrs. Bateman and Tom Chambers as Danny, this production delivers a captivating theatrical experience of horror that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

Philip Franks’ direction masterfully builds tension throughout the play, creating a sense of unease that permeates every scene. This is skilfully balanced with moments of comic relief, creating an atmosphere that keeps the audience guessing, with a gradual uncomfortable sense of “what exactly is going on?”. The result is a rollercoaster ride of suspense and intrigue that leaves the audience deliciously on edge.

Simon Kenny’s set design is an excellent backdrop for the atmospheric storytelling. There are shadows in all the right places. From the eerie dimness of the house interior to the allusions of what might be outside in the chilly darkness, Kenny’s set perfectly captures the mood of Betts’ suspenseful tale. Betts seamlessly blends suspense and dark humour and cleverly weaves a web of mystery, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats with unexpected twists and turns.

At the heart of “Murder in the Dark” are the compelling performances of Susie Blake as Mrs. Bateman and Tom Chambers as Danny. Blake brings an eerie comedic madness to her portrayal of the mysterious Mrs. Bateman, with an underlying sense of menace that keeps the audience guessing about her true intentions. Chambers, meanwhile, shines as the selfish and treacherous Danny, imbuing the character with increasing mania and a palpable intensity as the story unfolds.

In conclusion, “Murder in the Dark” at the Cambridge Arts Theatre is an eerie thrilling theatrical experience that captivates from beginning to end. Betts’ script is a masterclass in psychological suspense, keeping the audience guessing until the final curtain falls. This production is a must-see for those who relish an evening of thrilling suspense and dark twists.