by Anthony Shaffer.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Tue-Fri 7.30pm Sat 8m Sat Mat Sat 5pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 015 989 5555.
Review: Alan Geary: 30 July.
Not up there with Sleuth but great entertainment all the same.
The Colin McIntyre Thriller Season is a long-standing summer event in Nottingham but it’s never tackled this one before. Whodunnit, premiered in 1982, is a splendid comedy/thriller from Anthony Shaffer. It has a lot of the dazzling cleverness we associate with the writer of Sleuth.
In fact it’s impossible to write about the piece properly without giving the game away. And game it is; one that Shaffer is playing with the audience. As a demonstration of the playwright’s cleverness this is not up there with Sleuth but it’s great entertainment all the same.
Like all proper thrillers, Whodunnit comes complete with sofa, albeit not in its normal position centre stage. And this time the statutory source of alcoholic refreshment is a tackily full-blown corner-bar manned by an inebriated and bolshie butler, one Perkins (Patric Kearns).
It’s the thirties. We’re in the country house – isolated of course – of Silas Bazeby (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas), a dreadful stereotype with an extravagant head of hair. It rapidly fills up with more thirties stereotypes, all of whom he’s invited down for the weekend and most of whom also have extravagant heads of hair.
A bearded Rear Admiral (John Hester) with a booming voice; a sweet young thing (Jo Castleton) with a lisp and a boyfriend (Chris Sheridan), a cad with an eye-patch; an aristocratic woman (Susan Earnshaw); a half-blind, half-mad lady archaeologist (Karen Henson) – all these could legitimately be blackmailed by oily foreigner Andreas Capodistriou (John Goodrum) for being shockingly OTT thirties stereotypes. Instead he blackmails each of them for having dodgy pasts.
Which is as much of the plot as can be discussed. Post-interval, Inspector Bowden (Nicholas Briggs) appears, along with token working-class policeman (Al Naed) and twist follows twist. Briggs gives a subtle and actually complex performance, trying not to spill over into his recent Inspector Pratt, at the same venue.
It isn’t just intriguing and funny: the period set and some tableaux effects are visually stunning; and background songs from Noël Coward are stirred in for good measure.
This is a new departure for Tabs Productions. It’s excellent.
Archibald Perkins: Patric Kearns.
Andreas Capodistriou: John Goodrum.
Silas Bazeby: Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas.
Rear Admiral Knatchbull Folliat: John Hester.
Lady Tremurrain: Susan Earnshaw.
Lavinia Hargreaves: Jo Castleton.
Roger Dashwell: Chris Sheridan.
Dame Edith Runcible: Karen Henson.
Inspector Bowden: Nicholas Briggs.
Sergeant: Al Naed.
Director: Adrian Lloyd-James.
Designer/Costume: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Michael Donoghue.
Sound: David Gilbrook.