At first the story seems to set out to be nothing but a cliché with a group of jumpy friends trapped in a spooky old mansion and – oh no, the car’s just broken down too!? However the first half did keep me guessing and in spite of a fairly unoriginal plot it did, as one audience member stated, ‘make you think’ as well as being a wonderfully engaging piece of theatre. Nine expertly-selected cast members force Peter James’ vividly imagined characters to leap onto stage right off the pages of his acclaimed novels.
One of the first things you notice is the mics. Or rather, the lack of them. Each skilled actor admirably fills the entire auditorium, although one or two did struggle and seemed to shout every line, which diminished slightly the intimacy of some scenes. Every inch of the cunningly-designed set was richly furnished, and layered ingeniously making me feel as if I were sat right in the gloomy living room watching the drama unfurl.
But patience is key. Like with any successful suspense story, the plot builds up very slowly with all the action rapidly unravelling right before the drop of the interval curtain, leaving everyone on the very edge of their seats. And not through being desperate to beat the rush for a mid-show ice cream.
Despite attempting to be somewhat serious and shocking, for me the play remained very light-hearted and easy watching, even throughout the ‘tense’ scenes, largely due to the frequent humour. But be warned if you were planning to sit back and snooze, as some of the drama explodes with a bang...
Granted most audience members were at least middle-aged, but this delightful piece will appeal to all ages, a great choice for the younger generations too, with everything from comedy to charming characters such as the feisty French housekeeper who seems just a little… off?
Highly entertaining, I loved it.