Night Must Fall
by Emlyn Williams; producer Eric Hart
14-15 May 1948, Orpington Civic Hall
The Players returned to the work of Emlyn Williams only a couple of years after producing The Corn Is Green. Unlike the earlier play, which was a celebration of the power of education, Night Must Fall is a psychological thriller.
The dislikable Mrs Bramson lives in a remote part of Essex with niece Olivia, maid Dora and Mrs Terrence the cook. One day, Dora reveals she is pregnant. The father turns out to be a suave young man named Dan who charms Mrs Bramson, causing her to take him on as her private assistant. Olivia suspects him of hiding something sinister and her suspicions grow when it is reported that a local beauty has gone missing and a human hand is found in the rubbish outside the house, soon followed by a headless body.
One night, as the servants get ready to go home, Olivia says she is also leaving as she is too frightened to stay in the house. Mrs Bramson is left alone and for the first time, the audience sees that she too is terrified. Dan soon returns and gets Mrs Bramson ready for bed.
When she drifts off to sleep, Dan gets a pillow and smothers her. He then opens the safe and steals the money. He prepares to burn the house down, only to be interrupted by Olivia, who has come back and discovered her aunt’s body. Dan confesses just as the lights of a police car are seen coming to the house. Olivia says that the police must not get in, showing that she has fallen for Dan.
Inspector Belsize and other officers arrest Dan. Olivia tries to implicate herself in the crime, but Dan will not let her, confessing that it was all his own work. Before he is dragged away, he looks in the mirror and talks to himself, proving that he is in fact insane.