Night Must Fall - performed June 1995

By Emlyn William

Performed with the kind permission of Samuel French

Director - Debi Koval


(in order of appearance)

The Lord Chief Justice Martin Rayner
Mrs Bramson Viv Wheatley
Olivia Grayne Rosamund Pettett
Hubert Laurie Adrian Bolton
Nurse Libby Val Taylor
Mrs Terence Thelma Rayment
Dora Parkoe Lesley Mercer
Inspector Belsize Alan Wheeler
Dan Kevin Dace

Production Team

Debi Koval, Jill Laurie, Jude Hussey, Derek Butcher, Andy Dyer, Nigel Lister, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Paul Spendley, Greg Garrad, Alan Laurie, Nancy Gaisworthy, Linda Gatt, Jenny Glayzer, Christine Wheeler, Alison Baker, Rosamund Pettett, Patience Ling, Viv Wheatley, Jan Cousins, and other volunteers not mentioned.

The Play

It is no secret that Danny, a bell hop who arrives at the Bramson bungalow, has already murdered one woman and there is little doubt that he will soon murder another the aged owner of the house. He skilfully insinuates himself into her affections while preventing her niece who has guessed his previous connections with murder from giving him away. Dan is a dashing young assassin whom the niece firmly believes she hates, but as a matter of fact she is fascinated by him beyond measure. Dan is a selfish, self centred psychopath with no feelings and a vast imagination. He is perpetually acting for his own edification the part of a murderer and is only unhappy because he cannot share his secret with the world.


Murder, mystery, drama and suspense plus a touch of humour thrown in for good measure. All the ingredients are mixed together in Emlyn Williams' play "Night Must Fall" and served up by the Manifest Theatre Group in their latest production. With a transparent story line, the play tended to drag at times and did not always flow as it should have done, at least on the first night.
But nevertheless, Debi Koval can be pleased with her first full length play as a director and it was another enjoyable evening with this talented group.

The action takes place over five scenes and there were good performances from the nine actors, in particular Viv Wheatley as the crotchety invalid, Rosamund Pettett, as the long suffering companion and Kevin Dace as the baby face Dan, who was making his debut at the Manifest Theatre. They were on stage for long periods and never faltered. The humour was all down to Thelma Rayment, the indomitable housekeeper, whose appearances helped lighten the intensity of the play.

The Manifest Theatre, a beautifully furnished and atmospheric venue, is the ideal setting for this play. One feels that if a murder doesn't take place on stage, it's going to in the auditorium. as the lights dim and the eerie, disembodied voice of the Lord Chief Justice recommends conviction for a cruel and sensational double killing, apprehension descends on the audience like gentle rain. Unfortunately, the creation of apprehension like this is a dangerous thing - you have to live up to it. And regrettably this production fails to do so. This is not because of a general inadequacy on the part of the company; far from it. But Night Must Fall is an extremely difficult piece of theatre, and revolves around once central ingredient.
Williams wrote the lead role, Dan, for himself - a dangerous, scheming, complex persona who twists and turns in the world between calculated self projection and brutal honesty. Although Kevin Dace is obviously talented and has a mature and well-calculated stage presence, this character is not yet within his range. His portrayal of the killer never reeks of the absolute evil which is Dan's essence.

The responses of his bizarre behaviour are also not exploited to their full potential - the sexual fascination of the young Olivia towards the murderer only really becomes apparent in the closing moments, and the bizarre, semi-incestuous fantasy Danny encourages in his elderly, hypochondriac hostess (played brilliantly by Viv Wheatley) is left dramatically unexplored. Which is a shame, because in all other departments The Manifest Theatre shine. Adrian Bolton sturdily plays Hubert as bumbling, Dr Watson figure and there is a delightful performance - providing well judged comic relief - by Thelma Rayment as the gossipy Mrs Terence. But the missing links in the chain of production and interpretation are important parts of the work which are sadly not realised by Debi Koval's otherwise competent direction.
R G Ashworth

Photo Shoot

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