by David Foley.
Queen’s Theatre Billet Lane RM11 1QT To 21 February 2015.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat 5, 14 Feb 2.30pm.
Audio-described 14 Feb 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 18 Feb.
Runs 1hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 01708 443333.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 February.
Fast-twisting plot leaves characterisation behind.
Deadly Murder? As opposed to the lively type? Or, ‘deadly boredom’, maybe? Which you may experience if you’ve seen other ‘thrillers’ in the post-Sleuth format, where the play is less the thing than the playing-about with expectations.
I spent much of the second act waiting for a particular reversal of the situation. Every precedent made clear it would happen. As, at length, it did. The size of an audience’s collective gasp will indicate how many spectators believe the playwright’s contrivances, how many have seen such things before.
The setting is a New York property which isn’t subdivided into apartments but owned by (obviously very) successful jewellery designer Camille. Despite having no other night-time inhabitants, she keeps a security guard. He plays his part in the reversals of events, as waiter Billy refuses to leave following sex with the glamorously mature Camille.
Things grow darker and very violent. There are tricks and secrets, some more justified than others, while a principal of computer programming – foreseeing every possibility – emerges as a plot theme.
It suggests a sleek modernity, matched by the stripped-back elegance of Rodney Ford’s design, mixing luxury and vulnerability in its doorways, spaces and Suzy Austen’s large photos on the walls.
The problem is such pieces for some years have jettisoned the serious pursuit of the facts in the matter for a continuing series of incidents pulling the narrative rug from under the audience, till credibility takes a nose-dive and things are finally resolved, as here, via a sizeable amount of explanatory plot infill. It’s why the opening of these pays are quite easy to write, the central sections require skill to maintain consistency and the final scenes are extremely difficult to bring off.
Author David Foley stirs-in sufficient gunshots and tussles to maintain interest, while having one or two good moves and surprising lines. Simon Jessop’s production plays things straight, without digging for unavailable depth, while control of the situation changes as in a game of pass-the-parcel. Performances are efficient, though with the action set so far forward it shouldn’t be necessary for professional actors to use amplification.
Camille: Lucy Benjamin.
Billy: Tom Cornish.
Ted: Sam Pay.
Director: Simon Jessop.
Designer: Rodney Ford.
Lighting: Chris Howcroft.
Accent coach: Callum Hughes.
Fight director: Malcolm Ranson.
Photograph designer: Suzy Austen.