Derby Theatre's Murder In The Dark puts an epic twist on a classic ghost story

Tom Chambers provides the thrills in the supernatural tale of Murder In The Dark at Derby Theatre Image: Pamela RaithTom Chambers provides the thrills in the supernatural tale of Murder In The Dark at Derby Theatre Image: Pamela Raith
Tom Chambers provides the thrills in the supernatural tale of Murder In The Dark at Derby Theatre Image: Pamela Raith
You can’t beat a good old ghost story on a bitterly cold winter’s night

There is something extra special about enjoying a supernatural tale which shines in its full glory on a cold winter’s night.

Murder In The Dark is a festive ghost story that unfolds over New Year’s Eve. 

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A car crash near a dilapidated country home leaves troubled singer Danny Sierra and his glamorous girlfriend Sarah stranded. 

Country homeowner Mrs Bateman, a chatty and lonely soul, provides shelter for Danny and his extended family, who were involved in the car crash after visiting a funeral. 

What is supposed to be one of the most joyous times of the year, quickly turns into a nightmare filled with twists and turns galore.

The premise of the play - people rocking up to an isolated mansion where they get scared aplenty - may sound like the plot of many good ghost stories.

However, in the hands of masterful writer Torben Betts, who adds layers of mystery and suspense, the play that has a world premiere at Derby Theatre becomes so much more than just a ghost story.

Throw in an unreliable narrator, some splendid performances and you have a riveting tale that will leave you gripping the edge of your seat in suspense. 

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I loved how the tale continued to surprise, even after the interval and right up till just before the curtains closed.

There were various scenes, in particular one that involved a character crawling from a couch, that put the fear of God in me and which made me glad I had forgotten my glasses at home.

The stellar cast is a joy to watch. Danny Sierra is played by Tom Chambers whose TV credits include Holby City, Casualty, Waterloo Road, Father Brown and Strictly Come Dancing Champion.

Tom plays the alcoholic, former popstar with aplomb, and you often feel sympathy, pity, and mild revulsion for him, which is no mean feat to inspire such a wide range of emotions. 

Girlfriend Sarah, played by Laura White is the seductive temptress and spoiled rich girl who appears to be the one hiding a secret. Her on-stage chemistry with Tom is rather fabulous to watch.

Susie Blake’s scene-stealing Mrs Bateman will bring bucket loads of chills and laughs. 

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However, her portrayal of the friendless widow whose mushroom soup may - or may not - cause death, is important, as it shines a light on loneliness.

The crowd, myself included, went nuts for William, played by Owen Oakeshott whose comic timing is the perfect vehicle to take the play veering from pantomime to jaw-dropping terror in a few seconds flat. 

The play was a highlight of my winter and I heartily recommend it as it will put a smile on your face and a supernatural chill in your bones.

Murder In The Dark is showing at Derby Theatre until Saturday, January 20, 2024.

For more information visit Derby Theatre’s website by clicking here.

Address: Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, Derby DE1 2NF

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