The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
January 8, 9, 10, & 11 2020
From TV’s Dead of Night series –
by Don Taylor
It’s never absolutley dark, is it? There’s no such thing as absolute darkness ..?
Dan and Margaret have come to spend Christmas with Rachel and Edmund in their renovated seventeenth century cottage in beautiful countryside.
As Rachel plays the piano, she suddenly gets a sinister feeling of déjà vu … shortly afterwards the electricity fails and the phone is out of order … it is the start of a series of macabre events which mount relentlessly to a bizarre and terrifying climax.
This classic ghost story set in 1972, when exorcism had more general meanings, is about a centuries old injustice, exorcised by long silent spirits and the four unfortunate people who are .. drawn .. unwillingly .. in ..
Don Taylor’s play is perhaps best known for being the first in the Dead of Night TV series, broadcast on BBC in November of 1972; Mr Taylor directed the TV adaptation.
Rachel – Anna Steddon
Edmund – Sam Razavi
Margaret – Emily Dennett
Dan – John Garland
Newsreader – Dan Dryer
Stage Manager – David Comber
Deputy Stage Manager – Julian Batstone
Lighting Design & Operation – Martin Oakley
Score Composer & Performer – Sam Razavi
Guest vocalist – Menchu Razavi
Sound Design – Bob Ryder
Sound Design – Susanne Crosby
Sound Operation – Dan Dryer
Costumes – Maggi Pierce
Costumes – Cherry Fraser
Properties – Di Tidzer
Properties – Doffey Reid
Set Design & Construction – Dave Comber
Set Design & Construction – Nigel Goldfinch
Set Design & Construction – Carl Gray
Set Design & Construction – Mike King
Set Design & Construction – Sue Netley
Set Design & Construction – Gary Walker
Set Painting – Sue Chaplin
Set Painting – Margaret Davy
Poster & Programme Design – Judith Berrill
Programme Compilation – Susanne Crosby
Promotional photography – Gary Walker
Promotional photography – Sam Taylor
Promotional film – Phil Nair-Brown
Additional Filming – Phil Nair-Brown
Publicity – Susanne Crosby
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Peter Joyce
Publicity – Maggie Pierce
Programme Note #1: The Exorcism
SC writes: Welcome to a new year: new decade of theatre productions at the Barn. We start off with an unusual classic ghostly chiller, ideal for warming a cold winter’s night.
A contradiction? Apparently not. If we are scared by something that we know is not actually going to harm us, physically we can relax and enjoy it: known as a “safety net”. Feeling fearful results in a rush of adrenaline, endorphins and dopamine, which in turn makes us feel really good, especially when we feel safe to enjoy it. Of course that doesn’t explain how we’ve been scaring each other silly at rehearsals and leaving together so we’re none of us alone in the dark!
I’m so grateful to Guy Steddon who put the “Dead of Night” DVD in my hand and told me to think about directing it. I absolutely fell in love with it and when I read the play it was even better.
I’ve been hugely privileged to work with the best actors; each one brings so much it’s been an absolute joy to direct.
Special thanks to Sam for composing and recording the music, and for cooking Christmas dinner every single night of the run!
The crew as always have been absolutely brilliant, each in their own expert way.
I hope you get suitably, deliciously, scared: enjoy the show!
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: January 9 2020 issue – Guide Section – p46
Correspondent: Phil Hewitt
Text Header: New Year shivers on offer with Wick Theatre Company
Their first play of 2020 is The Exorcism by Don Taylor, directed by Susanne Crosby.
Susanne is promising a creepy thriller to chase the chills away at the Barn Theatre, Southwick.
The piece is perhaps best known as one of the stories in the BBC’s Dead of Night series in the 1970s. It started life as a play, and writer Don Taylor also directed the TV adaptation.
Dan and Margaret have come to spend Christmas with Rachel and Edmund in their renovated 17th-century cottage in beautiful countryside.
“This is a bright and cheery start, but as Rachel plays the piano, she suddenly gets a sinister feeling of déjà vu…
“Shortly afterwards the electricity fails and the phone is out of order… the start of a series of macabre events which mount relentlessly to a bizarre and terrifying climax.
“Don Taylor wrote this classic ghost story in 1972 when exorcism had more general meanings. This is about a centuries-old injustice exorcised by long silent spirits and the four unfortunate people who are drawn unwillingly in.”
Susanne said: “Because it was January, I didn’t want to do pantomime, and I do like a nice ghost story. I was wanting something to cheer the winter chills, and I love it when you get nicely scared, that kind of snuggled-up scared. Sometimes you can have enough of reality!
“It was a fellow member of the company who suggested this one to me, Guy Steddon, who is a complete horror nut. He said ‘I know you like a ghost story. Check this one out!’ He handed me a DVD and there were three episodes from the TV series, and I saw this one and just thought ‘Wow! This is what I want to do!’
“It was good, old-fashioned, armchair stuff and gorgeously scary. It was very gripping, but there was also quite a lot of it that was quite light-hearted and fun. But it slowly ramps. I am a real Hitchcock fan, and this one slowly ramps in the way that Hitchcock does. But it is not gory. It is just very, very creepy and scary!
“This spirit gets woken up in the house. You never see her but eventually you hear about her. It very, very slowly builds up. There are all these little things happening, like the lights going out. And then they want to leave, but they can’t. The doors won’t open.
“One of the four is a joker and tries to make light of everything, saying ‘We have got food and brandy. Let’s wait it out.’ One of them is very practical and thinks there must be a practical way out. Another one is a fixer and wants to fix it and take the hood off the fire so that they can get out that way…
“After seeing the play, I bought the script, and when I read the script, it gave me chills. I read it in the middle of the night. Everyone in the house was asleep. After I had read it, I had to put the lights on for half an hour before going to bed! It is so genuinely creepy.”
As for directing it: “For me, it is just written so well that I think the main thing is just to be really true to it. There are all these different things happening. It is not jumpy so much. You are not jumping all the time. It is just really unsettling, and that’s what we have really got to get across.”
Part of the appeal is also that it happens in real time. The interval will give the audience a chance to discuss what they think is happening, but by the time the second half starts, 20 minutes will have passed in the world of the play… and other things will have happened…
The production opens on Wednesday, January 8 and runs until Saturday, January 11. You are encouraged to buy tickets in advance from the Barn box office on 01273 597094 or online www.wicktheatre.co.uk.
Cast: Rachel – Anna Quick; Edmund – Sam Razavi; Margaret – Emily Dennett; and Dan – John Garland.
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: January 16 2020 issue – page 22
Reviewer: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: Ghostly thriller is truly terrifying
Wick Theatre Company started the new year with a spine-tingling, ghostly thriller at the Barn Theatre in Southwick.
Feeling it is too late for a pantomime, director Susanne Crosby instead brought us a dark mystery for this January run.
It is unnerving, scary and thought-provoking, full of chills and terror.
Unusually, it was set in real time – even the interval is accounted for, with 20 minutes of action you do not see but later find out about.
The setting was a country cottage on Christmas Day in 1972 and the construction team did a brilliant job, creating a cosy scene that becomes equally dark and claustrophobic.
Don and Margaret, played by John Garland and Emily Dennett, are visiting their friends Edmund and Rachel, played by Anna Quick and Sam Razavi, in their newly-renovated cottage for the first time.
It all seems to get off to a good start, with Christmas presents exchanged and the turkey on the table.
Senses are heightened throughout, so you can really smell that delicious Christmas dinner, and from the start you are looking for clues to the haunting.
Margaret said ‘when you imagine something it becomes real’ and then it began, with a medieval tune on the clavichord that seems to come from Rachel’s head, the wine turning to blood, the painful after-effects of eating and the lights going out.
It is when cottage closed itself off to the world, with its inhabitants trapped inside, that the true horror is felt. Although we in the audience could not see the darkness out of the windows, we can really feel the sense of being shut in, and that is largely down to the skills of the actors, keeping up the tension and the belief in this ghostly presence.
The connection to the past started and ended with Rachel and after a period of quietness, Anna delivers the powerful denouement, pulling us all in as everything began to be explained.
She and Sam worked well together, as did Emily and John. Each actor delivered an excellent performance and the whole play was so convincing, you never lost your belief in the darkness.
What you did not fully realise until much later on, though, caught up as you were in your fear and anticipation of what might happen, was that this was not just a ghost story, it was a political piece about injustice, one that still continues to this day – and that was perhaps what is truly frightening about it.
Review #2: The Exorcism
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: January 2020
Reviewer: Louise Dumas
If you ever found Christmas a difficult time of year, just thank your lucky stars that you weren’t a guest of Rachel and Edmund in their newly renovated country cottage. They, and their friends Dan and Margaret, become witness to the supernatural presence which haunts the seventeenth century dwelling with hideous consequence. Don Taylor’s famous play was written in the early 1970s as part of a horror anthology for early television drama on the BBC: sometimes dubbed a ‘socialist ghost story’, the chilling nightmare of the unseen phantoms summons Edmund’s guilty translation from working class to the moneyed middle, one half of Taylor himself – the other half is portrayed by eccentric, scholarly and laidback Dan.
Designed for studio television, it is a brave production for theatre. There can be no camera to catch the hidden angles, close-up emotion or just plain fright. The one set is unchanging, save for light and sound, or lack of either. The Wick Company, well known locally for accepting challenges head -on, give their all with energy, courage and skill.
Just four actors take the stage, each reflecting a different aspect of the unknown who never appear, except in our minds. Anna Quick as Rachel stars: her possession by her tortured medieval spirit was an astonishing tour de force, made even more effective by its understated delivery. Sam Razavi writhed with awkward conscience as Edmund, a neat contrast to the pragmatism of John Garland’s Dan. Emily Dennett made an elegant and poised Margaret, nicely illustrating that terror can be calmly presented.
Directed by Susanne Crosby, the play was a little slow to catch fire and a touch wordy for modern audiences, but eventually it accelerated to a satisfyingly horrible climax. The audience is now likely to drink red wine with very particular care and avoid party games with ice cubes.
Review #3: The Exorcism
Publication Data: 9 January 2020
Reviewer: Mark Hall
The Exorcism from TV’s “The Dead of Night”, written by Don Taylor, translates brilliantly from the small screen to the stage. For me, it was an unknown piece and, after some research beforehand, a bold proposition in my opinion but one that director Susanne Crosby achieves brilliantly.
The plot is summarised as follows: a couple stumble upon an abandoned cottage in the countryside whilst out walking. Deciding it would be an idyllic second home. They purchase it and renovate to a high standard.
We join the couple on Christmas Day where they are entertaining another couple. A series of strange and unexplainable events lead to conflict, tension, denial and acceptance, culminating in a poignant, yet stirringly relevant, finale.
The direction is natural and the pace excellent. An exceptionally wordy script, especially for a cast of 4 to comprehend is superbly delivered with no obvious dropped lines or stumbling. Credit to both the cast and director for an extremely well rehearsed performance.
A beautiful set, encompassed the stage allowing us to feel like we were there in their cottage living room with them. The well dressed set, complete with a roast turkey and Christmas dinner, was credit to Di Tidzer and Doffey Reid.
For a play to be able to grip you, the atmosphere needs to be right and Martin Oakley does a hauntingly good job with the lighting design. Subtle changes in the lighting is cleverly used to increase the tension. The sound effects were convincing and the whole production brought off a terribly eerie aura which complemented the script perfectly.
Sam Razavi, as Edmund, was excellent with a whole spectrum of emotions and complemented his onstage wife, Rachel, played by Anna Quick. Her transition from well spoken hostess to the portrayal of the exorcism was remarkable and spellbinding.
A production such as this, with limited effects, budgets and technology, relies heavily on the ability of the actors and boy did they deliver. All four held the audience captive with actions, reactions and expressions signifying the feelings of their characters at that moment.
John Garland gave an accomplished performance as Dan with unwavering optimism on all the peculiarities surrounding him and Emily Dennett portrayed Margaret with an assured confidence and logic. The perfect foil to Dan’s occasional eccentricity.
The subplots of the script are still relevant today as they were at the time of writing and allow for a moment of reflection of the divisiveness of society. Theatre should always leave you thinking. And this piece certainly did that. Unexpected twists, turns and a surprise ending meant this truly was a remarkable production and plaudits are well deserved to all involved.