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BLOG: Dark Plays For Dark Nights

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As certain as the seasons, come November it’s dark at 4pm, the evenings are chilly and we wait until the onset of frostbite before we even contemplate turning the heating on. We snuggle on the sofa and become engrossed in the latest TV series as the dramatic thrillers get amped up for our viewing pleasure. Gosh The Missing is SO good isn’t it?!

Equally theatre doesn’t miss out and there are a stream of atmospheric, hauntingly good plays on the stage right now that lure you into a darkly wonderful world. I have picked out five of my favourites to thrill your senses.

The Grinning Man – Bristol Old Vic, 13th November

If you fancy travelling further afield, the Bristol Old Vic are currently housing the grisly new musical based on Victor Hugo’s macabre folktale The Man Who Laughs. It centres on a young man whose face has been disfigured in a horrible attack as a child, which leaves him with a scarred eerie grin. It’s a murky melodrama and he eventually finds love with a beautiful blind girl. This new piece has received rave reviews and finishes soon, so catch it quick!

The Nest – Young Vic, until 26th November

Conor McPherson translates Franz Xaver Kroetz’s fable about a couple expecting their first child in this quietly-devastating domestic drama. Working-class couple Martha and Kurt become consumed by the pressures to provide for their new arrival. They’re doing all they can to get the money in, even if that means Kurt puts his family inadvertently in danger. The performances are beautifully delivered by Caoilfhionn Dunne and Laurence Kinlan and this potent piece is heightened by PJ Harvey’s hypnotic score. A must-see.

Acedian Pirates – Theatre503, until 19th November

A mysterious lighthouse, on the edge of a coastal, foreign land. It could be the present, it could be the future. A troop of military men sit waiting inside, ready to leave the wretched war behind, but young soldier Jacob wants some questions answered ‘what are they really fighting for?’ Jay Taylor’s new play explores our understanding of mythology, and forces us to ask vital questions about military occupation in a stirring, mind-blowing production.

The Red Barn – National Theatre, until 17th January

David Hare’s sixties adaptation takes place during a snow storm at a New England farmhouse. As two couples struggle back from a party in the blizzard, not everyone arrives back at the house and Ray is missing. It’s a starry cast including Mark Strong and The Night Manager’s Elizabeth Debicki, who dazzle in this gripping psychological thriller.

An Inspector Calls – Playhouse Theatre, 4th February

J. B. Priestley’s thrilling play of mystery and intrigue comes to the Playhouse Theatre this month. When a dinner party is interrupted by a strange inspector, the family are questioned in regards to the death of a young woman called Eva Smith. Secrets are revealed and revelations come to light as the audience are left guessing right to the end. A brilliant production and an absolute must-see.

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