To see Darker Shores last night, a Victorian ghost story by Michael Punter. After a spooky night in a guesthouse by the sea, Professor Stokes (Tom Goodman-Hill) calls in spiritualist Tom Beauregard (Julian Rhind-Tutt). The house seems to be haunted by its dead master, but both men are haunted too...
It's an effective, spooky drama with plenty of clever effects. Like "The Woman in Black", it conjures a compelling atmosphere through some very nifty stagecraft. The performances were also excellent - though I worried at first about Rhind-Tutt's American accent. The Dr loved the frock coats and the all-black Victorian set.
It's a richer story than "The Woman in Black", the characters vivid and well-drawn, and each with a credible history that blends into the story. It's also a lot funnier than "The Woman in Black", and had Things To Say. It seems nothing Victorian can get away these days without a mention of Darwin, though the play pressed the fallacy (as discussed on QI just last week) that Victorian churchmen hated Darwin for linking us to monkeys. The church had long-accepted that the Bible was metaphorically not literally true, but holy folk were troubled by the essential cruelty of evolution.
I also felt the play cheated in its final revelation, introducing something in its last scene that explained the mystery. How much better to have placed all the pieces before us well in advance, and then still delivered the surprise.
But still, a splendid night out. Sadly, it's closing in just a couple of days. I hope it is put on again.
Afterwards, we stalled in the bar for another beer, surrounded by Famous Actors. One of them, at least, I'd met before (and signed an autograph for his son), and another I sort of know through other people. But I never know the etiquette of these things and so kept timidly out of their way. Also, I was too busy discussing the career of K9 with Psychonomy.
For the second night running there were no trains home from Victoria, so we took a circuitous route via Balham and Babylon and bus, getting in about midnight for a crumpet and some tea.