Review: When Darkness Falls at Oldham Coliseum is ‘stunningly performed and expertly directed’

‘History is a set of lies agreed upon…what stories have you been telling?’
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We are witnesses to the scene: a stuffy office, which appears to be stuck in the 70s, belonging to an overworked professor (Peter Duncan) who is about to record a compelling podcast episode with an even more compelling young man (Daniel Rainford).

Outside, a stormy night rattles the thinly glazed windows, and the modest, isolated island of Guernsey lurks, harbouring darkness, secrets, and most
prominently, ghosts.

Directed by Paul Morrissey, When Darkness Falls is a true, and chilling portrayal about coming face-to-face with ominous truths, opposing ideas, and an understanding that deconstructing your own stories is essential; after all, ‘we all have our own version of the truth’.

John Blondel is an avid sceptic, refusing to believe that anything but the cold hard facts of surrounding history are valid, while the young man he has invited onto his podcast is provides a more intimidating outlook, determined to prove that the ghosts we are so afraid of are closer than the logical professor may think.

Throughout the production, both men unpack the realisation that a ghost might not always be a bump in the night, but instead something that we ourselves have locked away.

Both men have questions which only the other can answer, however as they delve deeper into four truly terrifying ghost stories, told by the young man, they uncover more than just ghosts, digging up metaphorical graves of their own pasts.

There is a plethora of jump scares to keep you on the edge of your seat, from thunder and lightning, (and chairs moving on their own!), to the professor’s poorly chosen ‘Exorcist’ ringtone at the beginning of the show- don’t worry, it’s only his wife calling to say his Spaghetti Bolognese is in the
microwave!

Bethany Gupwell’s lighting design establishes and nurtures the already uneasy atmosphere, leaving you with a strong desire to get up and find the nearest light switch, whilst Daniel Higgot’s sound design forces you back into your seat, heart pounding and knuckles white.

There were a number of times when a single beam of light would highlight the face of a cast member, perfectly creating that ghost-story, campfire feel, and sending a swift shiver down the audience’s spines!

The value of being able to see between the binaries of facts and stories, presence and absence, and death and life, was an integral part of the storyline, revealing to each member of the audience that whatever we do find in between should be explored, instead of rejected for the safety of what we
think we know- or what we choose to believe.

Not only does this stunningly performed, and expertly directed, production explore the value of facing our own ghosts, but it holds firm the fact that history and truth are not always intertwined-especially when it comes to our own stories.

When Darkness Falls is at Oldham Coliseum Theatre until Saturday 29 th October, and tickets can be booked here.

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