The Lamplighters at the Tabard Theatre
“That’s the reality of murder!” proclaim the cast of Glenn Chandler’s The Lamplighters. Glenn, a veritable fountain of knowledge when it comes to criminal psychology, is the BAFTA-winning mind behind the longest running TV detective series in history: Taggart. Entering the creaking Tabard Theatre, located above the 1880’s pub of the same name, he is happily greeting guests filing into the small space to the sound of whistling Cumbrian winds.
The first scene is one of disarray, mirroring the mental state of the former-policeman turned drunk, Frank (Mark Forester-Evans) who convincingly bumbles around his country farm house like a “loose cannon”. Fast paced humour ensues as Frank and his former colleague John (Shane Armstrong) exchange barbed remarks about their shared past – a past about to return and remind them of their misdemeanors. It’s a testament to the writing and performances that the cast are able to fuse black comedy with moments of genuine fear and obsession. The final member of the trio is Alan (Stewart Marquis). Unlike the other two he’s yet to fall victim to alcohol or anger, however, the catch-line “three strokes and you’re out” hilariously betrays the ill-health that has beset him since the murder of a mother and her two children ten years ago.
Haunted by their failure to solve the case they meet on the anniversary of the family’s deaths to try and solve the mystery. It becomes a tradition, “like Christmas”, as they are drawn back to the scene like moths to a flame. The murders have deeply affected all of their lives.
There are strong performances from everyone, including Tara Howard’s well-calculated movements and condescending looks as the crusader of the play Jo. Praise should be given to Scott Oswald’s quivering demeanor which gradually disappears as his character Billy seizes control.
The plot’s twists and turns have you guessing until the end, where you are left feeling that the reality of murder is that its effects are widespread and inescapable.
Photos: Derek Drescher
The Lamplighters is at The Tabard Theatre until 13th April 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.