FATAL ENCOUNTER: Francis Durbridge.
Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 15m: one interval: till 16th August.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays, 5pm and 8pm Saturday (Matinee 2.00pm Weds).
Review: Alan Geary: 11th August 2014.
With Fatal Encounter Nottingham’s Classic Thriller Season returns to its usual ground. After last week’s excursion into interestingly unfamiliar territory this is your tried and tested Francis Durbridge. From the word go you can spot the give-away components: posh west London flat; drinks supply which you just know will be well-used; the swish occupations everyone has; and, of course, the sofa centre stage directly facing the audience.
Durbridge’s continually ringing doorbells and telephones almost drive protagonist Howard Mansfield (Andrew Ryan in a commendably gimmick-free performance) to distraction.
It’s a clever twisting and turning plot which incorporates other nasty misdeeds besides murder, and a dose of will-he (or she)-get-away-with-it alongside the whodunnit element.
Unusually for Durbridge, there’s a flashback scene featuring Mansfield’s wayward wife Joanna (Susan Earnshaw), who enjoys more than the occasional scotch, and ageing bad boy Perry Kingsley (played by Adrian Lloyd James with a rough accent and the suggestion of a limp).
This week’s man from the Yard, Coldwell, a well-spoken gentleman for a change, is well played by Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas, who firmly resists any temptation to base his performance on anyone else’s. His very smile makes it clear that he’s on top of the job, and arrests, as they say, can be expected. Michael Sherwin, in a good performance, makes the fastidiously dressed art dealer Mark Adler so nervous and rabbity you think he must live in a hutch.
There’s a televisual quality to the proceedings, heightened in this production by raucous big band music before the start and deliberately over-enthusiastic music to ratchet up the tension at subsequent crucial moments. Since it’s been put back to the early sixties, there are no over-wide lapels or flared trousers. At one point Grace Kingsley wears a hat to match the cushions; but even this can be excused since she’s a somewhat flamboyant and comical character (nicely done by Jacqueline Gilbride) with what sounds like a Morningside accent.
Seasoned theme spotters might go home with nothing to report, and the plot needs some concentration; but this is unapologetically entertaining.
Howard Mansfield: Andrew Ryan.
Joanna Mansfield: Susan Earnshaw.
Hilary Van Zale: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Grace Kingsley: Jacqueline Gilbride.
Mark Adler: Michael Sherwin.
Perry Kingsley: Adrian Lloyd James.
Rex Winter: Alan Magor.
Chris Coldwell: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Director: Karen Henson.
Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Design Assistant: Chris Radford.
LX Design: Michael Donoghue.
Sound Design: David Gilbrook.