Ecclesall Theatre Company have succeeded in transferring Daphne du Maurier’s novel onto the stage.
Following her late mother’s wish, Mary Yellan crosses bleak moorland to stay with her Aunt Patience.
Patience is a shadow of her former self owing to her husband Joss’s violent temperament. He warns Mary to turn a blind eye to any untoward goings on. Tension builds as Mary wonders what sinister events are taking place. Her worst fears are realised as she witnesses a ship being lured onto the rocks and survivors casually murdered. The loot is divided up between Joss and his Wrecker’s Gang.
She has potential allies in a vicar, Francis Davey and Jem, Joss’s brother, a self confessed horse thief. She is unwilling however to trust anyone completely.
Michelle Vinson is terrific as Mary Yellan. She displays an excellent range of moods and emotions. She cowers but is defiant with Joss, shows fortitude with Patience and there is romance and cynicism with Jess.
Graham Millar plays Joss just right. He is undoubtedly an unpleasant, violent man. However we see his vulnerability, guilt and paranoia as he dreams, hallucinates and drinks himself into an early grave.
Du Maurier’s prose sounds terrific. As Joss confesses his crimes to Mary, he uses a simile of men being just like flies. He utters the immortal line, “Dead men tell no tales”.
Good use of sound reveals the sea hitting the rocks and the blood curdling sounds of dying sailors. Clever lighting and set design makes for an eerie atmosphere throughout.