When Darkness Falls review TONY TIMBERLAKE THOMAS DENNIS Photo Pamela Raith Photography

Review: When Darkness Falls

Review: When Darkness Falls

Spine chiller questions our perceptions of truth


There’s nothing like a good ghost story on a cold wintry night and for that, When Darkness Falls fits the bill perfectly. You know that at some point a clap of thunder will make you jump out of your skin, you’re guaranteed some flickering lights and atmospheric fog and you hope that there will be some objects flying off the walls. So far, so predictably good. But what makes this play by James Milton and Paul Morrissey stand out is its ability to get under your skin. Inspired by true events, the tale takes us to Guernsey along with its folklore and chilling tales through the ages, spanning witch-hunting right up to the ghostly apparitions in a World War II hospital. A history teacher (Tony Timberlake) and a paranormal expert (Thomas Dennis) meet to record a podcast about the stories on the island. You quickly sense that the characters are a little unhinged and that things are not going to go well. The actors switch into various characters from the tales (at first I hadn’t realised this was what was happening and was quite a clunky transition) and the first half felt a little flat. But after the interval, things really moved up a gear.

You know there is going to be a twist at the end and there were whisperings in the audience at the points where people thought they’d guessed what it’d be. There’s the Great Storm of 1987 and then whoosh, the big reveal. While it isn’t that unexpected, what’s neat about the play is that it raises questions over our beliefs – not just whether we believe in ghosts or not but also the stories we tell ourselves and our versions of reality.

Richmond Theatre until 11 Feb, and touring.

Image: Pamela Raith Photography