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The Case of the Frightened Lady at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 27th Mar 2018 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

After 30 years of reviewing productions at the Theatre Royal Windsor for various publications, on-stage regulars, not to mention Bill Kenwright, may have wondered where I have been for the past year.

The answer is… Edinburgh! With five theatres on my doorstep, various other venues and a plethora of festivals, what better place to indulge my love of performance and performers, and I have come to Scotland’s capital city not only as a reviewer but as a theatrical landlady.

As fabulous as this city is, there are of course times when I feel a little homesick and crave for the familiar, so I was delighted to discover that my first press outing to the King’s would be to see a production by The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, the successor to Bill Kenwright’s The Agatha Christie Theatre Company which, for the last 10 years, has mounted new productions at Windsor before going on tour.

It was like coming home seeing familiar faces such as Rula Lenska, Denis Lill and Ben Nealon, though I missed being able to chat with the lovely Roy Marsden who, as director, was always to be found around the theatre at Windsor.

Productions like these are not ground breakers but they are certainly crowd pleasers. Everyone likes a good mystery, and this play by ‘the king of the detective thriller’ Edgar Wallace, adapted by Antony Lampard, doesn’t disappoint on that score.

Julie Godfrey’s imposing stately home sets the scene for an evening of murder and mayhem as Lady Lebanon does everything in her power to continue her family’s lineage.

Rula Lenska is to the manner born as the lady of the house. In real life a member of the Polish nobility, she is a class act, elegant and aloof. In vast contrast, Ben Nealon fizzes with nervous energy as her spoilt son, while April Pearson as long lost relative Isla is a quivering jelly as a frightened lady - but is she the one in the title?

One murder down and Chief Supt Tanner from Scotland Yard makes an entrance, played by an authoritative Gray O’Brien, assisted by Charlie Clements as Sgt Totti, who doesn’t seem to know who he is at times. There’s a nice understated performance from Philip Lowrie as the butler, and Denis Lill always makes a huge impact, this time as a rather sinister, conniving family ‘friend’. He’s not the only menacing character. Footmen Gilder (Glenn Carter) and Brook (Callum Coates), in particular, are downright creepy, but we could do with some shadows for them to lurk in!

Writing of lighting, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between the scenes. There is a lack of atmosphere, which lighting designer Chris Davey could have created. Sudden claps of thunder, until nearing the end of the evening without any sound of rain, and disembodied screams, are also obviously for effect and are not believable, as are the scenes where the jodphered and booted Lord Lebanon walks through the house with a horse whip and a saddle to emphasise he has been out in the stables!

But this production is set in 1932 and is a period piece, somewhat stylised and melodramatic. And they say the old ones are the best!

The Case of the Frightened Lady is at The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until March 31. Booking

01315 296000

The tour then continues:

April 3-7: New Victoria Theatre, Woking 08448 717645

May 21-26: Milton Keynes Theatre 08448 717652

June 11-16: Belgrade Theatre, Coventry 024 7655 3055

June 18-23: Palace Theatre, Southend 01702 351135

July 2-8: Grand Theatre, Swansea 01792 475715

July 23-28: Grand Theatre, Leeds, 08448 482700

Jul 30-Aug 4: Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, 01284 769505

Oct 2-6: Theatre Royal, Glasgow 08448 717647

 

Comments

1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 months ago
    Welcome to Scotland, Clare! Thanks for this great review.
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