by Patrick Hamilton.
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre 410 Brockley Road SE4 2DH To 27 April 2013.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 8700 887.
Review: William Russell 16 April.
Sadly a load of old rope.
Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 melodrama, a repertory theatre stand-by for decades, has not withstood the ravages of time. It was turned into a celebrated film in 1948 by Alfred Hitchcock in which he experimented with long takes and used a scenario by Hume Cronyn and Alfred Laurents which improved on the original play by altering the relationship between the killers and their nemesis.
It is about two young wealthy university students, Wyndham Brandon and Charles Granillo, who, for the hell of it, strangle a friend, stuff his body in a chest, and then invite some people to dinner, including the dead man’s father and aunt, and serve the meal on the chest. The men were based on Leopold and Loeb, the wealthy Chicago teenagers who murdered a young boy in a bid to commit the perfect crime.
Joe Sowerbutts is splendidly ruthless as Brandon, the stronger of the two killers, and Christopher Walsh goes spectacularly to pieces as Granillo, his accomplice and, although when the play was written nobody dared admit it, his boyfriend. But an awful lot of drink is consumed and the conflict with Rupert, their former teacher, played by Will Bryant – in the film he is their university tutor who has fostered the Nietzschean superman beliefs the two students profess, and whose relationship with them is suspect – never really takes hold.
The final confrontation when, the party over, Cadell, having realised what is going on, returns to insist the men open the trunk descends into the ludicrous as he refutes Brandon’s belief they should be allowed to get away with the perfect murder. The evening passes painlessly enough, but there really seems to be no very good reason for bothering to revive the play.
Wyndham Brandon: Joe Sowerbutts.
Charles Granillo: Christopher Walsh.
Sabot: Ben Peterson.
Kenneth Raglan: Marco Petrucco.
Leila Arden: Ana Luderowski.
Sir Johnstone Kentley: Alec Gray.
Mrs Debenham: Jean Apps.
Rupert Cadell: Will Bryant.
Director: John Fricker.
Designer/Costume: Andy Robinson.
Lighting: William Ingham.
Sound: Mark Webber.
Fight director: Ben Peterson.