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Edith In The Dark review: an exploration of Edith Nesbit’s grim and complicated character

PUBLISHED: 14:27 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:27 26 November 2018

Edith In the Dark - Claire Bibby (Edith Nesbit
), Grace Dunne (Biddy Thricefold), 
Jeremy Small (Mr Guasto)

. Photo: Kellie Colby

Edith In the Dark - Claire Bibby (Edith Nesbit ), Grace Dunne (Biddy Thricefold), Jeremy Small (Mr Guasto) . Photo: Kellie Colby

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In ‘Edith in the Dark’, Baroque Theatre Company’s latest production, Children’s author Edith Nesbit’s life is dramatized - contrasting her biography with her earliest works, dark horror stories with vignettes of her life.

The revered author of Children’s classic novels, Edith Nesbit (E E.Nesbit) was a desperately unhappy woman. Her own child had died, her husband was an adulterous cheat, whose children she brought up. In ‘Edith in the Dark’ Baroque Theatre Company’s latest production, her life is dramatized, contrasting her biography with her earliest works, dark horror stories with vignettes of her life.

Presented Friday, at Wells Maltings Theatre, the play started with Edith sheltering in the creepy attic at her home while a party takes place below. She is intimidating a young, mysterious male visitor with her memories and ghostly stories, attended by her faithful maidservant. The party noises fade while the ghost stories erupt, then finish. Three fine actors: Clare Bibby, Jeremy Small and Grace Dunne switch roles, from the Nesbit household to characters in the ghost stories – with astonishing adeptness.

This mixture of biography and horror tale forms the substance of this complicated play, written by Philip Meeks and directed by Adam Marley. There is a good dose of creative stagecraft – fine lighting, design, costume, sound effect – all the bells and whistles of adept theatrical production, but sometimes the audience was left struggling, trying to decipher the precise relationships between fact and fiction, in this exploration of Edith Nesbit’s grim and complicated character.

It is always good to see this company, even when the play itself is somewhat unsettling.

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