Monday, 17 August 2015

"Suddenly At Home" by Tabs Productions
Nottingham Theatre Royal

Another classic Francis Durbridge thriller is brought to the Nottingham stage by Tabs Productions as part of the Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season 2015. It never ceases to amaze me that the quality of their productions remains so very high, injecting just the right amount of comedy into a serious thriller to balance the scales is a hard job, but this theatrical troupe do just that.

It's one of those thrillers where you know who the victim is, because you see them bumped off by the murderer, but then there are lots of clever twists to the plot to keep you guessing, And if you don't know the story, which I didn't, it'll keep you guessing what the ending is and this is one ending that I certainly didn't see coming.You're looking for when the murderer trips himself up, which of course he does, and you find yourself mentally collecting the clues to how he'll do this as you go along with the story, but the ending is unexpected!

Glenn Howard (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas) has already planned to kill off his wife, Maggie Howard (Karen Henson) for her fortune, and has the plot down to a tee. He has engaged the help of the woman he is planning to run off with, Sheila Wallis (Angie Smith), but things start to unravel when Glenn's plan to point the blame in Maggie's ex partner Sam Blaine's (Robert Laughlin) direction goes a little bit wrong. Sam calls the Howard's home to say that Maggie had just arrived at his house, at nearly midnight. This can't be true could it? After all Glenn had killed Maggie hours before and dumped the body in a pond near Sam's home, arranged for the car to be found in a ditch and planted the seeds sufficiently enough to point to just one suspect.

So what went wrong? Is Maggie really dead? Why has Superintendent Remick (John Goodrum) suddenly taken over the case from Appleton (Andrew Ryan) and where does the Howard's German au pair, Ruth Belcher (Sarah Wynne Kordas) fit in to the story? Suddenly it all becomes too clear, but not until just before the end!

Brilliant performances all round, yet again. Susan Earnshaw also plays Maggie's sister who is as confused as the rest of us at the start of the murder mystery, but soon helps to unravel the plot. Some of the characters only appear for a short time on stage, which also at times give rise to the mystery as to where they fit in to the plot, but the reasons for this unravel in the second half.

Set in the 1970's there's big, and long hair, wide lapels, flares, garish colour schemes, crazy bold wallpaper and furniture and props which could well be worth something on the Antique Road Show. A proper trip down memory lane and so relevant to the plot.

Again lighting design by Michael William John Donoghue and sound by David Gilbrook creating just the right level of suspense, especially the sound in this play because the "creeping" music fill in the gaps on stage which built the tension nicely.

Wonderfully, and I expect lovingly, directed by Adrian Lloyd-James, the glue that sticks all the bits together to make a masterpiece of a thriller.

Classy piece of work, once more from the theatre group we all now look forward to every year, And long may they return to the Nottingham Theatre Royal stage to repeatedly bring us classic after well produced and acted classic under the umbrella of the Colin McIntyre Thriller Season.

"Suddenly At Home" by Francis Durbridge is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 22 August 2015. The season concludes next week with "Stage Struck" by Simon Gray from Monday 24 August 2015 to Saturday 29 August 2015.

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