MURDER WITH LOVE: Francis Durbridge.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 30m: one interval: till 7th August.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays, 5pm and 8pm Sat. (Matinee 2.00pm Weds).
Review: Alan Geary: 2nd August 2010.
A cracking start to the Classic Thriller Season.
This year the Classic Thriller Season, the twenty-third, at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal should be re-branded the Classic Murder Season – the word “murder” crops up in all four play titles. Colin McIntyre and his team get off to a cracking start with Murder With Love.
You can tell you’re back in Francis Durbridge country. Almost the only people not in some swish media job are the working-class maid, the man from the Yard (also working-class) and a cheerfully opportunist cockney geezer called Rudd who seems to be competing for Blackmailer of the Year (working-class category).
Obviously, it’s set in the Home Counties, the West End in fact, though unusually for Durbridge, the grim North (Darlington) gets a fleeting mention. It goes without saying that there’s a sofa facing the audience. We get two scandalously well-used drinks tables instead of one because Geoff Gilder’s excellent set – was that our old friend, The Haywain on one of the walls? – consists of two separate locations.
It being Durbridge, and a tight whodunit, you need to concentrate, especially for the first ten minutes or so when characters and situation are introduced. But even if you lose the plot there’s some classy acting on display from the likes of, for instance, Samuel Clemens, as man in a partly self-made mess David Ryder, Jeremy Lloyd Thomas, complete with drooping moustache, as serial womaniser Larry Campbell and a beautifully cast Al Naed, as Rudd.
Even by Thriller Season standards it’s a frock fest (seventies but not outlandishly OTT). Karen Henson (Jo Mitchell) gets to wear three outfits, including a becoming bright green velvety costume, and Jo Castleton (Clare Norman), by now a cult figure in Greater Nottingham, at one point dons a red negligee for some imponderable reason – but why ponder? Both actors throw some more than decent acting into the mix.
The men wear suits.
This one, and the three coming up, might be worth postponing your holidays for.
Larry Campbell: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Jo Mitchell: Karen Henson.
Mrs Bedford: Susan Earnshaw.
Ernest Foster: Patric Kearns.
David Ryder: Samuel Clemens.
George Rudd: Al Naed.
Roy Campbell: John Hester.
Clare Norman: Jo Castleton.
Cleaver: Adrian Lloyd-James.
Director: Nicholas Briggs.
Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting Designer: Michael Donoghue.
Sound Designer: Nicholas Briggs.
Oridinal Music: Toby Robinson.