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‘The Devil at Midnight’ – Second Face Theatre Company.

Rondo Theatre, Bath

Historic – and very possibly Satanic – child abuse : a very brave, and tragically all too current topic for dramatic realisation. And Second Face Theatre Company are not afraid to tackle the subject head on.

Brian Clemens’ working of confrontation between perpetrator (“I was only following the rules”), and victim lurches from the sublime to the outright melodramatic – certainly shock tactics for all concerned.

The occasional cliched utterances from the main protagonists somehow now don’t quite have the impact they once may have had in the arc light of revelations produced by the Jimmy Savile investigations, but nonetheless are artfully blended here in an exaggerated show of turning tables.

Special mention must be given to Anne Roberts as the young victim/manipulator – her outpourings are the tour de force of Act Two.

Alex Oliviere, as the girl’s psychoanalyst, builds beautifully as the action spirals out of her control, whilst Jeremy Fowlds, her social worker husband, expresses all the traits necessary to guarantee his wished-for change of career to become an M.P. Chris Constantine adequately smoulders as the girl’s threatening brother.

All praise to Jazz Hazelwood (producer/associate director), and director Valerie Izzard for sweeping the evening along, catching us out as to where our sympathies should lie, and who is manipulating whom, despite a certain predictability about developments in the second act.

The two-act play continues its tour through March and April to Devizes, Stroud and Warminster.

– Richard Lister.

Friday, March 22, 2013.