by Glenn Chandler.

Tabard Theatre 2 Bath Road W4 1LW To 13 April 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.

TICKETS: 020 8995 6035.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 March.

Gripping events from a northern land of mist and murder.
Though he’s written for theatre, author Glenn Chandler’s best-known for TV work, notably creating long-running detective series Taggart. Both media show in his new play, set in a beautiful yet sinister Cumbria, where a triple shooting took place ten years ago.

Three ex-policemen involved in the investigation meet annually on its anniversary to visit the crime scene, hoping to find the murderer, who they believe takes a wreath there every year.

But this year they’re under investigation by self-styled crime historian Jo Tempel, who questions the evidence they used in court. It’s little secret they fitted their suspect up. But did they believe he was guilty? Why was another suspect not arrested?

In his plot-driven piece Chandler lays clues and details which acquire new significance as the second act opens up a new line of inquiry, with a young man found at the scene of the 10-year old crime. Once again, hunters become hunted as the drama takes on a new dimension and the title acquires a central role in events.

It’s well-acted, and with a well-known telly name could tour, intriguing and satisfying audiences who like to vary crime stories with something slightly more adventurous on an evening out. The author plays fair with his form, building sustained scenes and creating enough sense of character to create contrasts without clogging the action with overmuch individuality.

The only difficulty comes with some abrupt changes of emotional state demanded by the plot. It’s surprising how much screen editing can smooth an audience over changes which, naked in front of us, jar.

But Chandler’s astute in establishing the improbable first in solid reality and gradually suggesting a new dimension. Matters become increasingly gripping, and there’s an elegiac poetry to the conclusion.

As director, he might sometimes have encouraged actors to play against the script’s obvious implications, but there’s a clear contrast between Mark Forester-Evans’ flaky Frank, Shane Armstrong’s short-fused McBurney and Stewart Marquis as the thoughtful Alan – his well-turned responses to questions suggest long experience of cross-questioning. Tara Howard and Scott Oswald are equally accomplished at all stages of the action.

John McBurney: Shane Armstrong.
Frank Stringer: Mark Forester-Evans.
Jo Tempel: Tara Howard.
Alan Michaels: Stewart Marquis.
Billy Tuttle: Scott Oswald.

Director: Glenn Chandler.
Designer/Costume: David Shields.
Lighting: Richard Lambert.
Movement: Sophie Wyburn.
Assistant lighting: Maximilien Spielbichler.

2013-03-24 23:23:52

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