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A Night of Blacker Darkness Review

October 27, 2015
Photo by the Tennessee Wesleyan College Theater Program

Photo by the Tennessee Wesleyan College Theater Program

Saturday I drove up to Athens, TN to Tennessee Wesleyan College to see the world premiere of A Night of Blacker Darkness adapted by Dan Wells and Allison Hill, adapted from a novel by Dan Wells.
So, first of all, as I said before, A Night of Blacker Darkness is a vampire farce that Dan published around 2011. It’s set in the early 1800’s and features John Keats, Mary Shelly, and a guest appearance from a certain Lady Author. It’s delightful and fun and charming.
The play has managed to capture all of that, while still making necessary adaptations to bring a novel onto the stage. The show was directed by Dr. C. Austin Hill and featured a cast of students with a judicious use of a few older actors in appropriate parts. The three primary actors were John Smith, Tyler Peaden, and Stephanie Jacobs. They all did excellent work.
I was also especially taken by the actor who played Sable, the head of the vampire coven. This role was adeptly filled by Merrick Gray. (I’ve included the complete cast list from the TWC’s Theater Program facebook page below.)

All in all, the adaptation was fantastic. I was laughing for large portions of the show, which was as it should be. There were a couple of modifications to the plot, which I was sad to see, but totally understood. There was a cameo by, a certain lady author, that had to be cut because including it would have required at least one more set and three or four additional actors. Ah, the sacrifices we make for theater!

On a side note, as a theater person myself, I have to say that I was completely impressed with the doors in the show. They opened when they were supposed to open. They closed when they were supposed to close! They stayed in whichever state they were intended to be in!
The sets as a whole were both attractive and very well made. Actors had to slam doors repeatedly, fall against the set, lean on portions of the set, and the whole sets had to move and spin to show various interior and exterior scenes. There was one, very slight hiccup during the show when two set pieces separated slightly, but for a show as complicated and energetic as this one, that was very impressive.

There are two shows left, so if you’re anywhere near the area I highly recommend going this weekend!

Cast List

Frederick Whithers (A scheming banker in his 20s): John Smith
John Keats (A poet): Tyler Peaden
Mary Shelley (A writer): Stephanie Jacobs
Gwendolyn Gaddie (Frederick’s social-climbing Girlfriend): Annie Hopson
Percival Gaddie (Gwen’s brother, also a banker): Garrett Marshall
Colin Gaddie (Head of the bank, Gwen and Percy’s Uncle): Steve Walker
Inspector Tristan Herring (A vampire hunter): Angel Lamb
Chief Constable Barrow (Head of the Prison) Jedi Gabel
The Late Harold Beard (A very rich, old, and dead, man): Kreis Evans
Winston (A carriage driver, 40-50’s) Lake Sliger
Sable (Leader of the vampire coven): Merrick Gray
Gustav (An old Russian gravedigger): Rick Parker
Spilsbury (A very fat mortician): Jeremy Ramsey + padding…
Vampire 1 Gabrielle Lamb
Vampire 2 Morgan Marshall
Vampire 3 Maggie Montgomery
Vampire 4 Erin McCormac
Other Vampires/constables/
Tiffany Dierden
John Gabel
Jonathan Ramsey

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