The pedigree of Darkness was obvious, having been written by previous Fringe First winner Jonathan Lichtenstein. Unfortunately this production, from script down to simple blocking, was more than a massive disappointment. The show is supposed to focus on Yann, a young, Muslim (apparently, I didn’t hear it mentioned during the show) man moving to a forest with a family of religious fundamentalists. It doesn’t. It instead investigates the trials and tribulations of what I assume is Wales’ most insane family who clear fallen trees for a living. The family are ready to celebrate Ascension Day but the daughter Caitlyn has brought her new boyfriend Yann up for a trial day with the family business.The plot of this show is meandering. The characters are schizophrenic and shift from deep discussions and towering dialogue about the oncoming rapture to pleasant conversation about the flavours of crisps. The whole thing is overloaded with issues and can’t decide which way it wants to go with them. The race and religious issues surrounding Yann are pretty much left dead in the water towards the end of the play in favour of coverage of the father Huw’s religiously inspired insanity. There is a brief mention of Tony, one of the brothers of the family, being suicidal that is left hanging, totally undeveloped, in the middle of this mess of a play. These script problems were compounded by the performances. The characters switch from light-hearted chatting to explosive anger in seconds for no apparent reason apart from being crazy. This is particularly true of Tony who was between evangelical preacher and someone who needed a straight jacket for the entire show. Caitlyn seemed to be confused whether she was a wilting flower who was embarrassed about sex due to her religious background or happy being with her boyfriend Yann. This was not aided by Yann talking about his sexual exploits with her in front of her family in a way no normal person would. The only redeeming feature was the performance of youngest brother Dan, an everyman who simply wanted a route away from his mental family.Finally, there were problems with the direction. Often characters would deliver lines with their backs to the audience. This, along with atrocious accent work, made some lines indecipherable. The pacing also required attention. The actors would rocket past important plot points without a thought. Yann, in anger, shouts at this dysfunctional family ‘This is it!’ Unfortunately it is, and people have paid for this displeasure.

The Blurb

Fringe First winner Jonathan Lichtenstein’s exploration of the devastating impact of religious fundamentalism. As authority figures display absolute belief in their divine right to act with impunity, a tight knit rural family are torn apart by its destructive force.