dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

The Duke in Darkness review at Tabard London

by -

A claustrophobic psychological thriller set in 16th century France, Patrick Hamilton’s The Duke in Darkness never achieved the success of his earlier plays, Rope and Gaslight, and has been rarely performed since the original 1942 production, directed by and starring Michael Redgrave.

Newly adapted by Orlando Wells, the play emerges in Phoebe Barran’s admirably taut staging as much more than a historical curio. The setting is a tower prison in which the Duke of Laterraine (Michael Palmer) has been incarcerated for 15 years alongside his faithful servant Gribaud (Jamie Treacher), a victim of the era’s wars of religion and of rival aristocrat Lamorre (a supercilious Martin Miller).

Throughout his imprisonment, the Duke has survived on fantasies of escape, feigning blindness in an attempt to get his captors to lower their guard, but when the opportunity finally arises it can only be seized at great personal cost. When originally staged, the play’s conflict between persecuted Huguenots and Catholic absolutism, and its themes of resistance to tyranny, loyalty and sacrifice, clearly resonated with the contemporary struggle against fascism. Those ideas continue to resound, but Wells’ adaptation casts new light on the Duke and Gribaud’s ambivalent intimacy. Both roles are incredibly demanding but Palmer and Treacher valiantly rise to the challenge. Palmer makes the Duke’s moral choices gripping and moving, while Treacher brings off Gribaud’s descent into madness with touching humour.

Production Information

Tabard, London, April 16-May 11

Author
Patrick Hamilton, Orlando Wells (adaptation)
Director
Phoebe Barran
Producers
Lliana Bird, Mark Perry
Cast
Michael Palmer, Jamie Treacher, Jake Mann, Matthew Fraser-Holland, Martin Miller, Sean Pogmore
Running time
2hr

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
^