In yet another one of London’s beautiful Theatre Pubs, I attended the show ‘Benighted’. Based on the 1927 novel by J.B Priestley, this adaptation by Duncan Gates and directed by Stephen Whitson sees a group of travellers lost in a storm in amongst the mountains and valleys of Wales where they stumble upon a lonely house, only to experience one of the most memorable and frightening nights of their lives.
Firstly what struck me as lovely about this production was their stellar use of the space. A compact room, it seemed full but not busy and somehow opened out the story to us; with only a few additions and one change of a door appearance, the use of staging and space is intriguing and does not feel cramped. To add to the scary, dark atmosphere and to give a ‘olden day’ sense to the 1920’s based play, the whole scenery was of a dark wooden look, with hazy lighting to give us some spook.
Unfortunately, this is all that really impressed me. The performers were well rehearsed, giving wonderful performances as much as they could, hitting the speech and mannerisms of persons of the times – exactly what we would expect. And therefore, I cannot fault them. However, it all felt a little stunted. Benighted, known as a comedy/horror, is famous for inspiring Rocky Horror Picture Show and other comic/thriller/horror plays and films, I expected something more. We all know how clever and catchy Rocky Horror […] was and is, and yes, it contains tunes that even the younger generation can now sing word for word which gives it a slight advantage but it had a spark that this production of Benighted just missed. Moments of fear played along with comical moments felt as if the play could not make its mind up of what genre it wanted to be and lacked combining the both fluidly.
Despite this, if you are looking for an easy watch, little giggle and some tense scenes, Benighted is a nice production to pop along to see for something different on a weekday night.