Players' production anything but a nightmare

The impressive cast of Nightmare
The impressive cast of Nightmare

If a "nightmare" is an experience that can be described as an unpleasant experience then the tile of the Rossendale Players' latest production is perhaps a bit misleading.

In their final performance of the season, the Players present "Nightmare" by Harold Robbins, a delightful mystery set in an isolated 1950s cottage with a cast of colourful characters.

Director Helena Rose Soule transported the play from the 1980s, when it was originally set, back three decades in a move which works well, giving the story an Agatha Christie feel.

Indeed, the story has many similarities with those of the Queen of Crime with plot twists aplenty, devious old maids, femme fatales and rakish cads.

Speaking of the latter, Stephen Claxon is delightful as bad egg Raymond Shaply, lighting up the stage as the sneering, amoral schemer.

Raymond's gentle, wealthy but frail old aunt Marion Bishop is admirably played by Penny Griffin, in a role that has more than meets the eye.

Marion Bishop, an elderly writer of romantic novels, is dying. Katherine Willis, a kind young soul from the nearby village, looks after Marion whilst also caring for her bother who has a learning disability.

A series of mysterious phone calls and the appearance of Raymond, Marion’s rapacious nephew, set off a nightmare scenario which becomes increasingly complex when one of our characters is found murdered.

Deceit, suspicion, blackmail and incrimination are subtly woven into a web of crime, which is complicated by a dramatic confrontation scene just before an ingenious twist brings a surprising close.

Rebecca Crampton returns to the Players line-up in glowing fashion as the enigmatic nurse Laura Winnecombe, perfectly capturing her cut-glass accent with the right amount of threat and mystery.

She is ably assisted by Kevin Clarke as Dr Andrew Thorne while young Sophie Longmire is brilliant as the naive Katherine. Players newcomer Rachel Schofield and Ben McCarthy complete the impressive cast.

As with any Rossendale Players production, special mention should always be made to the superb set on the stage of the intimate New Millennium Theatre venue in Burnley Road East, Waterfoot.

It is apparent that great effort has been made to resurrect the visual aspects of the 1950s on stage.

The play runs until Saturday, June 10th. For more information email rossendale.players@gmail.com.