Blue Merrick - the spirit of ghostly revival ‘Edith in the Dark’

Blue Merrick in Philp Meeks' Edith in the Dark.
Blue Merrick in Philp Meeks' Edith in the Dark.

Interview by Graham Chalmers

One of Harrogate Theatre’s most important productions for years is back by public demand this weekend – and it’s scarier than ever.

After a hit run last December in the theatre’s cosy studio, award-winning playwright Philip Meeks’ Edith in the Dark has now been given an upgrade to the main auditorium.

The result, says lead actress Blue Merrick, will mean a whole new experience for fans of the chilling tales of Victorian Gothic horror writer E.Nesbit.

“I’m excited to be back. It’s such a joy to work with such a brilliant script. It’s nice to be able to do it on a bigger stage. It will give us the chance to give more space to E.Nesbit’s stories.. We all enjoy having a good fright”

A clever portmanteau of ghost stories within a story, Edith in the Dark will enjoy an extended run from tomorrow, Friday until Saturday, March 14 under the direction of Reform Theatre’s artistic director Keith Hukin.

Lancashire-born with piercing blue eyes and, for this role at least, striking white hair, Merrick returns in the central role of writer Edith Nesbit.

A strong-willed figure, Nesbit was forced by the strictures of Victorian morality to live something of a double life, despite being the successful author of The Railway Children.

Blue said: “Edith’s life was a hot bed of passion yet she had to hide beneath a veneer of respectability. She had a passionate affair with George Bernard Shaw, possibly in retaliation for her husband’s regular philandering.

“As a woman she couldn’t talk about that in public but she could write her stories of deception and mystery.”

Joining her in this deliciously sinister production will be Patrick Neyman as the handsome stranger My Guasto, while Nicky Goldie takes on the part of loyal but comically drunken housekeeper Biddy Thricefold.

Blue said: “Theatre is a funny old beast. I always think when you’re doing something for the second time it has to be a but different. Having a new cast makes the show special all over again.”

One thing remains unchanged in the new run of Edith in the Dark – it’s Blue who is in charge on stage, a role she is accustomed to after regular appearances as the registrar at weddings in Coronation Street.

At the mention of that, this charming actress who has performed in everything over the years from The Marriage of Figaro to The Forsyte Saga, laughs.

“I’m a complete jinx in Coronation Street. Whenever I marry anyone, within six months they either end up in the canal or run off with someone else!”

Tickets are available on 01423 502116 or at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk