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CULTURE: Thriller that doesn't have you on edge of your seat; Review.

Byline: Terry Grimley

Edge of Darkness

Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton

**

The refurbishment of the Grand Theatre means that the annual Charles Vance Summer Rep Season has been decanted to the 167-seat Arena Theatre.

It's brought a new audience to this normally fringe-orientated university venue, with daily matinees to soak up demand and an irregular performance pattern to accommodate events already programmed. Abigail's Party next week, for example, runs from Monday to Friday.

These long-established seasons of weekly rep recall the creaky charm of the genre, once the traditional training ground for British actors, while at the same time suggesting why it died out.

The theatrical thriller, once a staple of touring, is also now close to being extinct outside this museum-like context.

Brian Clemens' Edge of Darkness is a typical potboiling example of what younger generations have been missing.

It's set at the turn of the 20th century "in an isolated house located on a craggy coast" - not to be confused with "Cliff House, overlooking the Channel", in The House on the Cliff, coming up in a couple of weeks.

Cliffs are good for accidentally pushing off heiresses, or bohemian-dressed strangers with misplaced Russian accents who unexpectedly come looking for them.

A middle-aged couple have just rediscovered their daughter - missing for three years - suffering from amnesia in Dublin. Or so they say.

Obviously nothing here is what it seems - least of all the smirky new servant who is no sooner in the house than he is rifling through a bureau.

The acting in this not particularly gripping mystery never aspires above the serviceable, but it would be hard to say whether the woodenness is more in the performance or the writing. So it will be interesting to see how these actors measure up to Abigail's Party

Running time: Two hours, 40 minutes. Until Saturday.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 19, 2007
Words:303
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