By Karoline Leach.
The Chiswick Playhouse, 2 Bath Road, Chiswick, London W4 1LW to 29 February 2020.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm.
Runs 90 mins. No interval.
Review: William Russell 10 February
Back by popular demand, this tense little two hander thriller wsd given four stars by me last time round and although it has been recast – Scarlett Brookes has replaced Natasha Barnes – I do not see any reason to change that judgement. Maybe, since I know what happens, the element of surprise is missing and in thrillers surprise is important. On second viewing perhaps some of the plotting could be tightened, some of what happens changed because as so often with thrillers one wonders just why somebody does something silly – like walking down a steep flight of stairs into a pitch black cellar when there is an axe murder on the loose. One might also in these days of female ascendancy feel that it is possibly out of kilter with he times, but the tikces it is about are the early 1900s so who knows. Either way it is still a well played affair directed again with assurance by Pheobe Baran, perfect before dinner theatre because it provides plenty to talk about afterwards over the meal.
Set in London in 1910 it tells how con man George Love (Fred Perry reprising the role), whose income is gained from wooing susceptible women with some cash in the bank, marrying them, getting hold of their money and after giving them a wedding night to remember disappearing, discovers Adelaide Pinchin, a plain and naive milliner who has some £50 in the bank – a healthy sum then – and is the perfect target for his rather bogus charms. The point about it all is that the spider may trap the fly in his web, but the fly turns out to be rather less naive than he assumed. Adelaide rumbles what he is up and a battle of wills ensues. The audience is left to find out who wins.
It is based on a true story and for some the presence of that large bath in the corner of the room in the lodging house where they are having their honeymoon may well give the game away. But possibly not. Perry does a good job of creating an East End lad with not much education but an accent he has polished up so that he can pretend to be a diplomat, a man of the world, a traveller, and Brookes conveys perfectly Adelaide’s sweetness, a woman crushed by a domineering father, suffering from anorexia and dreaming of going to Venice and falling in love. While replacing a hat in the window of the shop where she works she is spotted by Perry who is passing by and on a whim he goes in to look at the hat, then realises he has found another potential victim.
Adelaide Pinchin: Scarlett Brookes,
George Love: Fred Perry.
Director: Phoebe Barrran.
Set Designer: Jessica Staton.
Lighting Designer: Chris McDonnell.
Sound Designer: David McSeveney.
Production photographs: Savannah Photographic.