Edith in the Dark (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

Edith in the Dark

credit: Sam Atkins

Children's author gets ghostly

Partially a biographical study of the author Edith Nesbit, and partially a dramatisation of her early ghost stories, Emmerdale and River City writer Phil Meek's script reveals the sexual frustrations and morbid fascinations of the author who has charmed generations with The Railway Children.

At a Christmas Eve party, Nesbit, played with a spritely sensuality by Blue Merrick, tries and fails to seduce a mysterious, if rather decorous, young man. Realising that he is more interested in her as an author than a woman, she traps him into listening to her early ghost stories – tales which she finds reflect her mood more than fanciful stories of cheery youngsters.

The ensemble proceed to inhabit her horror tales, reflecting Edith's own disappointments and cynicism – repeatedly, life is described as far worse than any supernatural terror. The straightforward, measured direction and solid performances allow each story to be revealed clearly, although the connecting biographical details do little more than provide a slight context for the author's increasing despair.

The conclusion weaves together the imaginary and the biographical, hinting that Edith is either under a curse herself – or more likely insane – without resolving either strand, and the touches of melodrama undermine the naturalistic script and acting. Yet the pleasure in seeing a strong ensemble, and a bold approach to a venerated author, makes Edith in the Dark an intriguing, enticing diversion.

Momentum Playhouse @ St Stephens, 516 2880, until 30 Aug (not 17), 4.25pm, £9.50–£11.50 (£8.50–£9.50).

Edith in the Dark

  • 3 stars

Harrogate Theatre in association with Reform Theatre Company Celebrated children's author Edith Nesbit retreats to her attic writing room to escape her husband's annual Christmas party. Planning to seduce an uninvited guest, she ends up reading her extraordinary Tales of Terror to the young man, and her housekeeper. But…