Edge of Darkness - performed May 1980

By Brian Clemens

Performed with the kind permission of Samuel French

Director - Dennis Murfitt and Valerie Taylor


(in order of appearance)

Penny Sally Mann
Hardy Nigel Rowe
Emma Frances Brown
Max Dennis Murfitt
Laura Vivienne Wheatley
Livago Adrian Bolton

Production Team

Peter Westbrook, Jenny Rollings, Bruce Emeny, Kevin Brown, Geoffrey Taylor, Christine & Peter Potter, Dennis Murfitt, Valerie Taylor, Brenda Chapman, John Honeywood, Derek Cobbold, Adrian Rowe, and other volunteers not mentioned.

The Play

Brian Clemens is no stranger to the art of thriller writing with over fifty years screenwriting experience and TV credits including The Avengers and The Professionals. Having cut his teeth within the confines of 38 minute feature screenplays, where he had to write new scripts that utilised old sets, Clemens is adept at shaping new from old in exciting and eventful ways.
Clemens has done just that with this play. A psychological thriller called The Edge of Darkness means you can't help but enter the auditorium with an inkling of what you're going to get. Perhaps a ghostly house set somewhere in the 1900s? The curtain lifts to reveal a ghostly house set somewhere in the 1900s.
Maybe a blundering maid with a west-country accent? 'Good mornang!' And is that a mysterious stranger arriving at the front door? The setup is almost too cliched to bear and yet, what Clemens manages so masterfully is to take this hackneyed horror and craft what is ultimately a very satisfying piece of theatre.


There seems to be no limit to the versatility of this group. Its spring production of a recently released suspense drama is gripping form the first scene to the end of the play.
The male lead was to have been player by David Beech who unfortunately had to withdraw only three weeks ago. Then his understudy, Bert Yeates, went down with bronchitis. As a result Dennis Murfitt stepped into the breech, and what an excellent job he made of playing the father, Max, opposite the wife, Laura, played by Vivienne Wheatley. Both gave the usual first-rate performances that we have come to expect from them.
Frances Brown played the daughter Emma, perhaps the most exacting and demanding character in the play; a task which she achieved with considerable mastery.
The only newcomer to the cast was Nigel Rowe who played Hardy, the mysterious and enigmatic butler cum handyman, newly employed, who obviously knew much more than was immediately apparent with the right degree of latent menace mixed with urbanity opposite the housemaid-cook Penny, played by Sally Mann who gave another convincing and entirely satisfactory interpretation of her large and taxing part. Adrian Bolton gave an excellent portrayal of this small but important role of Livago.

THE Manifest Theatre Group has gained a convert to the live theatre.
The group has just presented The Edge of Darkness at Manningtree’s former British Legion Hall and it fell to my lot to contribute a critique, not something I relish. Stage productions, whether amateur or professional do not number among my preferred interests and amateur performances are particularly hard to deal with.

As regards the Manifest Group I have to admit some curiosity, having heard from enthusiasts how good its two previous productions were and from colleagues that the group was far better than the average amateur-set-up. And it’s always interesting to see the unknown and hidden talents of the people one rubs shoulders with regularly in normal day-to-day activities.

The play, a dramatic mystery by Brian Clemens, was set at the turn of the century and revolved around a married couple who had found their daughter, missing for some three years, and suffering from loss of memory.
A cast of just six took part in the two-hour production and perhaps it is unfair to single out any of the cast but for me the stars were the two servants, Sally Mann as Penny the maid, who brought a touch of comedy to the proceedings, and Nigel Rowe, as the butler, whose true identity was not revealed until the very last.
The play, which had only recently been released for general production, was ably produced by Dennis Murfitt and Valerie Taylor. My only criticism would be that the sound effect of waves breaking on the shore did not quite match up to the rest.

Photo Shoot