Review: In A Dark Dark House

By John Nathan, December 4, 2008

Almeida Theatre, London N1

Neil LaBute’s latest offering, sensitively directed by Michael Attenborough, is partly autobiographical. Security guard Terry (David Morrissey) is the estranged older brother to the rich and annoyingly immature ex-lawyer Drew (Steven Mackintosh).

Drew needs Terry to testify to the child abuse they suffered at the hands of a summer-camp leader as mitigation for Drew’s driving misdemeanour.

If the stakes for Drew are relatively low, for Terry the price of unearthing childhood memories, including beatings meted out by his father, is huge. No prizes for guessing who out of these two brothers is the real victim.

Less predictably, the play becomes a risky exploration of the difference between seduction and abuse. Central is a scene between Terry and the 15-year-old daughter (Kira Sternbach) of the man who abused him. Morrissey deserves an award for his portrait of a man damaged when he was a boy. My only reservation is that the author probably feels better after writing the play than the audience does after watching it.

(Tel: 020 7359 4404)

Last updated: 11:14am, December 4 2008