The Well tells a story set around the construction of the Woodingdean well, the hand-digging of which began in 1858 as part of plans to build a new workhouse in Brighton.

One of the diggers, Jack, is searching for the truth about the death of his mother. With the help of a prostitute, Bella, he starts to uncover a series of dark secrets.

As the story progresses, so does the well, growing ever-more dangerous and complex, yielding no water.

It’s a bleak tale, intensely told. The minimal set – two levels of jagged scaffolding shrouded in dry ice, buried within the labyrinthine town hall – puts the focus on the actors. The seven-strong cast, dressed in black, switch roles throughout, sometimes working in tandem to create composite characters. They even take on roles as props – cleverly impersonating beds, a sideboard and, amusingly, Volk’s seashore railway.

This is demanding – for actor and audience – but wholehearted, studied performances and a clever script make it easy enough to follow, especially once you’re keyed in. The effect is to give the play an intoxicating fluidity and unpredictability.

The cast make clever use of torchlight and noise (including haunting harmony singing) to tell a gripping, expertly paced story. Some superbly dramatic set pieces, including a genuinely thrilling finale, make it well worth the effort.