Review: Don't Look Now; The Garrick

Nicola Nuttall (top left), Anne Chadwick, Lynne Cummings and Steve Cooke in Dont Look Now. (s)
Nicola Nuttall (top left), Anne Chadwick, Lynne Cummings and Steve Cooke in Dont Look Now. (s)

The Garrick’s latest staging - a thriller about the stabs of bereavement - is slicing up tradition by swinging audiences to the darker side of life.

Based on the novella by Daphne du Maurier and adapted for the stage by Nell Leyshon, Don’t Look Now follows couple John and Laura as they escape to Venice after the tragic loss of their young daughter.


Soothed by the romance of the city, wounds begin to heal as the couple come to terms with the tragedy.


But when they meet a pair of sisters claiming to be psychic, they find themselves ensnared in a series of strange and violent events.


Harvey Levene’s setting - an artistic, greyed out Venice pierced with black like trickles of dark blood - captured the eeriness of the city’s romance: the duality of recovery and indistinguishable grief; of escapism and carpe diem set against the inevitability and unpredictability of death.


The build-up of suspense was at times haphazard - not always linking together in an intricate puzzle - but there were sufficient touches of eeriness to startle audiences.


Nicola Nuttall was warm, confident and articulate as Laura though the performance lacked the deep cut of grief - that bone-grinding weariness - to feel fully invested in the character and plot.


There were some holes in the script itself: surely a mother eroded by grief, who believed the sisters’ claim that her daughter’s spirit remained in the world of the living, would cancel all sight-seeing plans to try and make contact with the ghost?


Steve Cooke as John slipped ably from a range of emotions and tones: anxiety; grief; optimism; sarcasm; impatience etc.


Splashes of comedy were provided by David Pilkington in supporting roles as an Italian waiter and police officer. He rolled onto the stage as naturally as sunshine, bringing warmth and light to these small roles and ballooning their comic potential.


Pilkington has the comic understanding to leave audiences in stitches with a single look. It’s all down to the details he brought to the roles, painting each character with individual mannerisms.


Support also came from Anne Chadwick, Lynne Cummings, James Bateman, Michael Mullen, Peter Allen and Ruby Whittaker.


The Garrick’s staging captured plenty of light and dark: but if the lines had been blurred a little more, to reflect the reality of human complexities, the emotional pelt would have hit all the harder.


Catch a final performance tonight, tomorrow or on Saturday at The ACE Centre, Cross Street, Nelson, starting at 7-30pm.


Book on 01282 661080.