THE GENTLE HOOK
by Francis Durbridge.
Theatre Royal Theatre Square NG1 5ND To 1 March 2014.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary 24 February 2014.
This Gentle Hook, a reprise of last summer’s production, is still well and truly Francis Durbridge. There’s the West End setting and the classy, slightly limp jobs the characters all have. There’s that sofa back in its usual place and the drinks supply upstage-left. And there are the over-worked doorbells and telephones – enough to drive your potential killer to do what s/he does best.
A rare departure for Durbridge though: Gerald Waddington (David Gilbrook) has a non-Home Counties accent. He doesn’t say “ee by gum” or have a whippet at his heel, but it’s a proper no-messing-about Yorkshire job.
Inspector Lennox is back with his flapping mac, although it’s clearly fine outside. Again he’s uncouth and scruffy; he looks for most of the time as if he’s been sleeping in the stables round the back of the nick. It’s a polished, well-controlled performance from George Telfer but, for the context, a too-obvious homage to the late Peter Falk.
Interior designer Stacey Harrison, is again done well by Angie Smith; and Andrew Ryan is back as soon-to-be ex-husband Phillip. This time his mum Madge is played by Susie Hawthorne. Chris Sheridan again appears in his underpants – different ones – as Alan Kyle.
It being Durbridge, you have to concentrate on the plot. But even if you don’t there’s much else to enjoy. You want to know who’s going to get killed, and how the villain will be uncovered. It all unfolds on a cool and realistic seventies set, which is matched by some non-OTT period costumes. Sound is from Ravel, but it’s not just background: it becomes important to the plot.
Why the title, The Gentle Hook? In the second half we’re told that decent people can become hooked into villainy, initially very gently. But aside from this worthy lesson, Tabs Productions, again directed by Jeremy Lloyd Thomas, lay on an evening of uncomplicated fun.
Gerald Waddington: David Gilbrook.
Charles Venner: Richard Sheridan.
Phillip Harrison: Andrew Ryan.
Alan Kyle: Chris Sheridan.
Stacey Harrison: Angie Smith.
Brad Morris: Adrian Lloyd-James.
Madge Harrison: Susie Hawthorne.
Lennox: George Telfer.
Director: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Michael Donoghue.
Sound: Wesley Schol.