The Case Of The Frightened Lady theatre review: A gentle undemanding Sunday afternoon mystery is the order of the day for this new touring production.
The Case Of The Frightened Lady theatre review by Katey Thompson.
Billed as a classic thriller, this new adaptation of Richard Edgar Wallace’s production by Anthony Lampard takes us along a familiar but winding path in the who dunnit genre. The murder mystery formula has the potential to thrill, but the need for a considered build up can lead to some ponderosity. Certainly the first half strayed into the latter, with only the one set giving very little dynamic potential, the coming together of various characters in the great hall was slightly forced.
The story centres around the great family house of Marks Priory, with all the visible action happening in the central hall, complete with symbolic family crests remembering generations of family battles. The conflict in the family comes to a head during the annual fancy dress ball when staff and guests mingle with deadly consequences. First to pop his clogs is the Chauffeur (Joshua Wichard), strangled by an unusual weighted silk scarf. Loud screams and claps of thunder ring out in an almost comic hammer horror fashion, as the drama unfolds, and is used to signal a foul deed has occurred.
The cast was well balanced overall, with some good performances all round. The chief detective (Gray O’Brien) was perceptive but not quite Morse, Lady Lebanon (Rula Lenska) was domineering but not truly fearsome, just having the family interests at heart. Perhaps the best performance was from Lord Lebanon (Ben Nealon) who was the charismatic but subservient son and heir to the family fortune, who only defied his mother regarding the choice of his wife Isla Crane (April Pearson).
The play uses a few standard cliches and murder mystery tropes, including the culprit revealing a little more than he should know about a botched murder attempt to the main detective.
Unfortunately this doesn’t quite have the charm and skill of Agatha Christie but the final scene did redeem the initial steadiness of the first half with a dramatic finale. This is a play that is a happy evening’s entertainment but does not place any demands on the viewer as you carried along the familiar journey of this genre.
The Case Of The Frightened Lady theatre review by Katey Thompson, April 2018
The Case Of The Frightened Lady is running at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until 7th April 2018.