By Isabella Fraser
Opening up onto a messy living room and three very bored young flat mates, the scene is set for this quirky, slightly surreal and ultimately disturbing play. Written by Bill Gallagher in 1989, it was winner of the Sunday Times Playwrighting award and is an insight into human nature. Like a cross between a Philip Ridley play and an episode of The Inbetweeners, it takes a little time to enter the strange world of this play.
These flat mates – with great performances from Lorna Heap, Lucy Mangan and Michael Clarke – are restless and all they want to do is have fun. Demonstrating a lack of endearing qualities about them as they live in their own fantasy world, the audience does not immediately sympathise with these characters. Thrown into the mix is the awkward landlord, portrayed by David Hayman with flawless subtlety, a combination of loneliness and underlying sinister intention. A major part of the storyline centres on a dog – the landlord’s dog to be precise – that ultimately leads to the denouement. The impact of this is emphasised by the appearance of a live dog.
Strongly defined direction from Sophie Vaughan (part of the original cast) allows humour to punctuate the text even in its darkest moments, which makes the ending all the more disquieting. This play is one of those that you almost wish you had not seen, because it lingers in the mind. Go and see it – but maybe bring a friend with you…
Darkle runs until 23 August at theSpace at Surgeons Hall at 20.40. Running time is 1 hour 5 mins.