Theatre Review: Afraid of the Dark - Charing Cross Theatre ✭✭✭✭

Afraid of the Dark
Charing Cross Theatre
Review by Tom Fowles

11th September 2013. Where does the nightmare begin…? Quite well actually; Afraid of the Dark is a show destined to invoke fear in its audiences. Ensuring this is established from the offset audiences are welcomed into the auditorium with an air of uncertainty and anticipation.

The writer, who wishes to remain anonymous, positively pulls away from the clichéd ghost story and tries to take our minds on a journey casting terror with the most everyday of objects; a series of notes. The show follows the story of a 50’s Hollywood film production company with tight budget constraints making it ever impossible to find their next blockbuster. The clock is ticking and the sand timer almost up when an unscrupulous, cryptic stranger arrives; but will he be the making or breaking of the company? Or perhaps both?

Rebecca Blackstone & Charlie Anson
Photo by Eric Richmond
One selling point for this show compared to its predecessors of a similar nature is the strong standard of acting. Julian Forsyth plays a complex and mysterious Dr Charlier whose mere presence on stage strikes fear in the audience exploiting the use of stillness and toying with their minds.
An effective portrayal of easily impressionable Herschell by Mark Rice-Oxley proves to audiences how easily manipulated the human mind is and highlights how vulnerable we really are. Other cast members Rebecca Blackstone (Sandra) and John Guerrasio (Bernstein) are accolades to all that is horror in their superb acting, a perfect choice by casting directors.

Afraid of the Dark features a string of ingenious illusions choreographed by Darren Lang which add to the marvel and seamlessly slot into the show.

The show captivates the audience by well thought special effects and interactions breaking the fourth wall and enhancing the audience experience. On a side note I was pleased with the directorial decision not to include an interval as it is my belief that a 20 minute leg stretch would have killed the bloodcurdling atmosphere that the company worked so hard to create.

A key theme of the piece is the concept of not being able to see the thing that you are most afraid of and I firmly believe that the capable cast and creative team have achieved this. The sound of screams resonated around the auditorium. One criticism of the show however is that theses screams did often turn into laughter and the potential for real terror was lost.

Although the mastermind behind this chilling show wishes to remain anonymous, homage has to be paid to the director Ian Talbot who fiercely brings the piece to life. Production Designer Paul Farnsworth transforms the small stage of the Charring Cross Theatre into an authentic 50’s Hollywood movie studio amongst other venues making best use of the space.

An adrenaline pumped show certainly not for the faint hearted but certainly worth a trip to see…if you dare!

4 stars ✭✭✭✭


Charing Cross Theatre
The Arches
Villiers Street
Box Office: 08444 930 650

 Monday – Thursday @ 8pm, Friday @ 6.30 and 9pm, Saturday 4pm and 8pm

TICKET PRICES £10.00 - £29.50