SHOCK: Brian Clemens.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 1h 55m: one interval: till 1st September.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays and 8.00pm Sat (Matinees 2.00pm Weds and 5.00pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 27th August 2012.
The best of this year’s Thriller Season.
A particularly strong Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal ends with Shock from Brian Clemens, best known for TV’s The Avengers. It’s directed by David Gilbrook, who also handles the sound using some of Bernard Herrmann’s noir music, much of it from Hitchcock films.
A group of people have been invited down for the weekend to the country home of Maggie Miller (Sarah Wynne Kordas) to celebrate her birthday, but when they arrive she’s not there. Naturally enough the phone’s been cut off.
Maggie is/has been a voracious predator with a penchant for other people’s partners so everyone has a motive for foul play. Before finding out whodunwhat we have to wade through a lot of self-cancelling clues, a body or two, and some very scary moments. All the while we and the plot are helped along by Clemens’s sharp and workman-like dialogue.
The characters, actually not stereotypes, are all played with entertaining gusto – for instance, airline pilot Terry Dexter (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas) with his weakness for Maggie and alcohol, but not in that order. Karen Henson, as neurotic wreck Jenny Rayner, the childless wife of a wandering husband, is outstanding.
Jo Castleton’s performance as Ann Marsh, the survivor of an air crash, is subtle and chilling. And outfit of the week has to be the massively becoming air hostess uniform she shows up in – this is the sixties so the spoilsports were yet to come up with the wheeze of recruiting “stewards” strictly on grounds of professional expertise.
It all happens on Geoff Gilder’s splendidly done cottage set, the sort you’d live in yourself. It comes complete with a scandalously over-used drinks cabinet – everyone, not just Dexter, keeps homing in on it – oddly enough, stuck on the end of the draining board.
It’s saying a lot, but this is surely the best of this year’s Thriller Season. Perhaps Frankenstein was the one best qualified to be a stand-alone production; but Shock is the most suspenseful and unpredictable. Literally right up to the closing few seconds you’re kept guessing.
Ann Marsh: Jo Castleton.
Jenny Rayner: Karen Henson.
Terry Dexter: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Andy Flewin: Chris Sheridan.
Steve Turner: Adrian Lloyd-James.
Peter Rayner: Samuel Clemens.
Maggie Miller: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Director/Sound: David Gilbrook.
Set and Costume Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Michael Donoghue.
DSM: Charlotte Eden.
ASM: Alison Wilcox.
Production Assistants: Sarah Dennis, Richard Sheridan.