Monday, 24 February 2014

THE GENTLE HOOK by Francis Durbridge

Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 1 March 2014

Now I love a good murder mystery and this is a brilliant murder mystery. I saw this company perform this play last year but yet again the very talented cast, who will be back again for it's 26th Classic Thriller Season in July, didn't disappoint with this very classy Durbridge classic.

Brad is celebrating his 60th birthday and is joined by his stepdaughter, Stacey, who has travelled back from Paris with a special delivery birthday present in the form of a painting from one of Brad's former art students. While Brad is out, Stacey is attacked by a Charles Venner and she murders him, which starts the chain of events which includes blackmail, more murder and deceit.

Having seen this last year, the characters seem more over the top than I last remember. Brad is more camp, the inspector more like Columbo with his flailing arms and forehead touching, and Alan Kyle, friend of Stacey and interior designer especially delighted the female section of the audience in the second half when he appeared in just a very small pair of stripey green briefs. Chris Sheridan, who played Kyle, did extremely well to not crack a smile when the boos from the females rose when he covered himself up in a dressing gown!

Brad is played wonderfully camp by Adrian Lloyd-James, Chris, as Alan, always seemed as if he was a bit shifty and had some other agenda, but what? Stacey Harrison (Angie Smith) managed to keep the twists and little white lies going and there were times that you really did think she had some involvement, apart from the murder of Venner.

Phillip, soon to be ex husband of Stacey, kept the procedures on an even keel in trying to unravel the plot and Inspector Lennox (George Telfer) perfected the Columbo mannerisms. But who really reveals the real murderer, and what was the motive? Is Stacey really involved with the murdered man and why does she protest her innocence when there is so much evidence stacked against her?

And why does Ravel's "Rhapsodie Espangol" hold the main clue to Brad's suspected suicide.

A classic thriller, which will make you jump, performed by a brilliant cast and serves as a delicious aperitif for the July Classic Thriller Season to come to the Theatre Royal, later in July.

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