SUDDENLY AT HOME: Francis Durbridge.
Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 3h 10m: one interval: till 22nd August.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays, (matinee 2.00pm Weds). 5pm and 8pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 17th August 2015.
Will thorough-going rotter get away with it? Excellent.
In Thrillerland all roads lead to Francis Durbridge. And for the third production of the Classic Thriller Season we’re bang in the middle of Durbridge’s home territory. The action happens in the living-room of a smart West End flat, which comes complete with sofa facing the audience centre stage, and a scandalously well-used drinks supply upstage-right.
It’s not a whodunit but a will-he-get-away-with-it. Thorough-going rotter, Glenn Howard, (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas in an outstanding performance) wants to bump his wife off. It’s not psychologically plausible – after all Maggie Howard (an excellent Karen Henson) is loaded with her dad’s lolly, which she’s splashing in Glenn’s direction, and is sexy and warm-hearted with it. What’s more, he’s holding down a swish job which entails flying here there and everywhere and going to dinners at the Savoy.
What normal bloke, even a wrong’un, would ruin a set-up like this?
Perhaps it’s the continual ringing of telephones and doorbells. Always a Durbridge trademark, in this play they’re enough to drive anyone to homocide. There’s a moment when the doorbell rings just as Glen is fixing himself another triple; he freezes like a man at the end of his tether and almost weeps into his drink.
The other actors are on form: for instance, Angie Smith is Maggie’s struggling actress friend Sheila, and Robert Laughlin her ex-lover Sam, a dandyish but shrewd soft porn writer.
We get a brace of sleuths, Inspector Appleton (Andrew Ryan), bald and relatively normal, and later on Superintendent Remick (John Goodrum) with a giant notebook, who for a senior police officer looks strangely long-haired and alternative and has a thing about corridors and doorways.
The seventies isn’t overdone; flares are not too flared, lapels are manageable, checks are kept well in check. And Geoff Gilder’s realistic set is tastefully done. Nor is the background violin sound overtly seventies.
You need to concentrate on this one, especially at the start, to pick up the back stories. The plot runs amok in the last few moments, but this is probably Durbridge at his best. Certainly the first-night audience had a good time.
Maggie Howard: Karen Henson.
Helen Tenby: Susan Earnshaw.
Ruth Bechler: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Sam Blaine: Robert Laughlin.
Sheila Wallis: Angie Smith.
Glen Howard: Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas.
Appleton: Andrew Ryan.
Remick: John Goodrum.
Director: Adrian Lloyd-James.
Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting Designer: Michael Donohugh.
Sound Designer: David Gilbrook.