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Love From a Stranger at the King's Theatre Edinburgh

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 7th Jun 2018 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

Although it has been a West End hit (albeit in 1936), with numerous radio and film versions to follow, I have never before seen Love From a Stranger.

Apparently, it rather fell into obscurity, which is unusual for an Agatha Christie thriller. Maybe it was because it was co-written by actor Frank Vosper (who fell out of a porthole on an ocean liner and drowned on his way home from the New York run in 1937!).

It is also unusual in that there isn’t a murder in the first act. In fact, it isn’t even a whodunit!

This version, produced by Fiery Angel and Royal & Derngate Northampton, is set in 1958, not the most colourful of times, and designer Mike Britton’s set perfectly reflects the austerity of the era with its earthy colours and women dressed in tweed suits. And the splitting of the set sideways to focus on different areas of the flat is novel, though it leaves the coffee table off centre!

The play is set in a London flat but it is not until well into the scene that we discover who the players are: Cecily Harrington has come into some money, is getting married and is renting out her flat. The annoying pseudo Mrs Bouquet, played by Nicola Sanderson, is her Aunt Lulu, and Mavis is her friend and sharer in the £50,000 win.

The first scene has a 50s feel - restrained and colourless, despite a lively performance from Alice Haig as Mavis - and seems overlong as Cecily (spinster material if ever I saw it) agonises over her doubts about her forthcoming wedding.

But, of course, all is not what it seems, and what starts out seemingly as a rather turgid play blossoms into one of the most psychologically frightening productions I have ever seen, thanks to director Lucy Bailey and gripping performances from Sam Frenchum as Bruce Lovell and Helen Bradbury as Cecily. The build-up may be slow but it’s worth the wait, even though I wasn’t sure, in the end, who did what!

Love From a Stranger is at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh until June 9. It then tours:

June 12-16: Theatre Royal Newcastle-upon-Tyne

June 19-23: Everyman Theatre Cheltenham

June 26-30: Theatre Royal Glasgow

July 3-7: Milton Keynes Theatre

July 1014: The Lowry, Salford

July 17-21: Theatre Royal Norwich

www.lovefromastranger.com

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