I’ll be Back Before Midnight

by Peter Colley

7th – 9th November 1991

A couple rents an old farmhouse with the hope that the peace and quiet will help the wife recover from a nervous breakdown, but the old owner tells them tales of murder and ghosts.

Midnight Prog

The Cast

Jan Sanderson: Tracey Brett
Greg Sanderson: H Connolly
George Willowby: Robertson Bell
Laura Sanderson: Enid Farr

Produced by Mike Long

Newbury Weekly News review

On the edge

It is 23 years now since my reviews began to grace these columns, a time which has taken me around the district into many halls, schools and theatres, so it seemed incredible that for the first time, I found myself en route to the Coronation Hall and the hospitality of the Compton Players.

The action opens in the living room of a converted barn, on a farm which is in the middle of nowhere with the nearest village being five miles away.

It is to this deserted area that Greg Sanderson has chosen to bring his wife Jan, who has just left hospital after a nervous breakdown, in the hope that she would be able to come to terms with her problems while he could carry on with his thesis on flints, and the cutting of them into various shapes.

Jan is apprehensive about the situation, and her nerves are even more on edge when Greg informs her that his sister Laura, with whom she has never seen eye to eye, is coming to stay.
George, the farmer who owns the barn, calls to see if they are comfortable and tells about a murder which had been committed in that very room by a grotesque and deformed hermit, whose ghost still walks.

Not a healthy kettle-of-fish for someone as frayed and distraught as Jan, and when Laura turns up and tries to assert authority things really begin to boil.

With just these four players the concentration put upon them is intense, and as the story unfolds the audience moves closer to the edge of their seats.

The difficult role of the disorientated Jan was brilliantly controlled by Tracey Brett, who is to be commended for never lapsing from her mental state in the frequent confrontations.

Appearing weak-willed, being constantly manipulated by sister Laura, but turning out to be decisive, devilish and devious, brought out the best of H Connolly as Greg Sanderson, especially forceful in the final stages of this intriguing tale.

Proving a snake-in-the-grass from her first entrance, Enid Farr dominated attention to perfection with her portrayal of Laura, an accounts executive who could not relate to men and kept running back to Greg, with whom she could do anything.

Bringing humour into this highly emotional thriller Robertson Bell, with his rolling down-to-earth dialect, fitted perfectly into the slot of farmer George, a real Job’s comforter to Jan with his wild tales of goings on in the past, but amusing her with his ‘doctor’s orders’ story of having to take whisky in a glass in preference to coffee in a cup.

Produced by Mike Long, with lighting and special effects by Ian Hickling and Dave Hawkins, the play reached a conclusion which was surprising and dramatic, bringing the audience to rapturous applause at the final curtain.