by Brian Clemens.
Tour to 7 August 2010.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 June at Mercury Theatre Colchester.
Motives abound and shots are fired.
It would be tough to find a major TV crime series over the last half-century where script-writer Brian Clemens hasn’t had a role. Here’s another of his corkscrew-plotted stories, set on a sunny Costa Sinista where terrorists and old-fashioned thieves are at work.
So’s something else, and Clemens plays fair in planting it during the action, along with the bombs that help propel the story. There’s sufficient ingenuity, while the characters, if not their motives, are easily absorbed.
But this is two hours on stage, without the distractions of location changes and minor characters, despite an unconvincing wave to an off-stage police officer. It reminds how cleverly Anthony Shaffer shaped a stage-play in Sleuth, where the set itself provided plenty of surprises and distractions.
The single-room set here (sadly uncredited) is brightly attractive in Mediterranean manner. Each of its entrances – fireplace, staircase, curtain-covered interior and front doors – plays a part in the plot. But for the rest there’s little to do, so much of the time is people talking about what they claim they intend doing, despite Clemens being experienced enough to provide moments of tension, and an act-end shock to keep audiences cliff-edged through the interval.
There’s plenty of ingenuity, though experienced thriller-watchers may latch on to the triangle of characters and note that if two of the relationships are developed in some detail the final revelations are likely to involve the third.
This is meat-and-two-veg-theatre, with the piquancy of wondering who might have spiked the brussels, spuds or carrots – a solidly traditional taste, with everything laid out on a plate to satisfy an audience who’d be disappointed at the lack of a perp in Death of a Salesman.
Direction and performances follow a similar pattern, though the men especially are left seeking for scraps of character. Michelle Morris has more guidance; she’s to look gorgeous in frocks while being a little more sinister than at first she seems.
If this is what you want, you’ll get it fair and square. But Clemens is clearly acclimatised to the screen’s plot-propping dynamics rather than the character-based exploration of stage plays.
Suzy: Michelle Morris.
Larry: Matt Healy.
Alex: Christopher Villiers.
Director: Giles Watling.
Lighting: David North.