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Preview: Edith In The Dark at Edinburgh Momentum Playhouse

Edith In The Dark
Edinburgh Momentum Playhouse @St Stephens (Venue 166)
Wednesday 5th – Sunday 30th August 2015
Fringe First Award-winner, River City and Emmerdalewriter Philip Meeks (Kiss Me Honey, Honey, Edinburgh Fringe and Scottish tour) is set to the return to Edinburgh this August with the deliciously sinister play Edith in the Dark which looks at the darker side of the much-loved celebrated children’s author Edith Nesbit.
Blue Merick as Edith Nesbit
in Edith in the Dark
Photo: Sam Atkins

Edith Nesbit retreats to her attic writing room to escape her husband’s annual Christmas party. Planning to seduce an uninvited guest, she ends up reading her extraordinary Tales of Terror to the young man, and her housekeeper. But all is not what it seems…

Writer Philip Meeks explains “Long before her stories for children became celebrated and made her famous, Edith Nesbit wrote twee, sentimental verses for her own Christmas cards when she and her husband Hubert Bland were more or less penniless. This led to her life-long loathing of the festive season. During this period she also wrote ghost stories. But these aren’t the polite genteel efforts you may read by Mrs Gaskell or Edith Wharton. They are visceral and closer to hard-core horror fiction than anything else. Innocence is destroyed and men are obsessed with unearthing dead wives. There’s demonic possession, vampire plants, zombies and even dabblings in the world of science fiction - HG Wells seems to have been a thorn in Edith’s side so maybe she wanted to prove something to him!
Blue Merrick (Edith Nesbitt), Scott Ellis(Guasto)
and Rebcca Mahon (Biddy Thricefold)
Edith in the Dark - Photo Sam Atkins
Her reason for writing so horrifically stems from a terrible childhood memory. She visited a church in Bordeaux where she saw a collection of grisly mummified corpses. Determined that her own children wouldn’t suffer anything as terrible she chose to purge the memory from her soul through her writing.

Originally this play was going to be a series of Edith’s stories told as an anthology. I love the old Amicus horror films where Peter Cushing gets on a train with four strangers and tells them all they’re going to die, and we see their stories. They’re schlocky and almost camp and brought to life with bizarre props and puppets, which keep them family friendly and fun.

From L-R Scott Ellis(Guasto) and
Rebcca Mahon (Biddy Thricefold) 
Blue Merrick (Edith Nesbitt)
But Edith’s own life is so dark she took over. I knew I had to include her and her story in the play. She lived through poverty and hardship, brought up her husband’s mistresses’ children as her own (indeed, one mistress lived under their roof) and lost her son tragically during a simple operation to remove his tonsils. I couldn’t help feel that, however much she might have tried to purge the darkness, she couldn’t really escape it.”

Featuring monstrous tales of lost love and bitter revenge, Nesbit’s spine-tingling ghost stories come to life in this thrilling new drama by acclaimed playwright Philip Meeks.

From L-R Scott Ellis(Guasto),
Blue Merrick (Edith Nesbitt)
and Rebcca Mahon (Biddy Thricefold)
Photo Sam Atkins
Think E. Nesbit and no doubt The Railway Childrenor Five Children And It immediately spring to mind. Yet, despite her renown as an author of children’s stories, Edith Nesbit was also a mistress of Victorian Gothic horror, penning chilling stories of the paranormal with a genteel elegance that underlies their flesh-creeping nature. First published in magazines in the 1880s, then collated in 1893 anthology Grim Tales, they have since, for the most, been forgotten…until now.

Playwright Philip Meeks weaves Nesbit’s own life drama alongside her resolutely domestic terror shorts, imbuing her refined words with a little of her own inner darkness and humour. Meeks recently bagged a Fringe First Award for his play Kiss Me Honey, Honey and was responsible for some of Emmerdale’s most heart-thumping moments.

Cast & creatives:
Written by Philip Meeks
Director – Keith Hukin, Sound Design by Gerrard Fletcher,
Set Design by Alex Swarbrick

Cast: Blue Merrick (Edith Nesbitt), Scott Ellis(Guasto) and Rebcca Mahon (Biddy Thricefold)

On The Web:
Twitter: @edithinthedark

Dates: 7-30 August (Previews: 5-6 August) at  4.25pm     
Location: Venue 166, Momentum Playhouse @St Stephens
Running time: 1 hour 20mins                                                
Tickets: 0131 5162880 or       
Preview prices: 4-5 August £8                                        
Festival prices: 7-30 August £9.50 (Concessions £8.50) – except Saturday and Sundays £11.50 (Concessions £9.50)
No performance: Tuesday 18 August

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