Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Cue Deadly

Nicholas Blincoe
Riverside Studios
(2003)

This play has been devised using the £30,000 granted as part of the inaugural Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award. The other prize for directors Dan Hine and Kirsty Housley is the current three week run at the Riverside Studios.

This award is designed to help young directors to step up a level. Regrettably, Cue Deadly does not seem a very good result for a prize fund that is nearly as big as that for the winner of the Booker Prize.

Much as one wants to love this film noir on stage, the problems are overwhelming. The actors use microphones and due to technical problems with the sound, quite a lot of what is said is inaudible. The consequence is that a rather complicated plot is unintelligible.

The fact that the actors double and treble parts adds to the confusion. It takes time to realise that the addition of a red orchid behind the ear means that Daniela Nardini has switched from innocent doctor to possibly evil chanteuse. This is unfortunate as it is critical.

Give or take a bit, the plot is as follows: Terrence the hitman (played by Khalid Abdalla), who is as close to a hero as we get, has killed three people as a result of a contract. The reason is clouded but involves said chanteuse and the two brothers of one of the victims. Quite where the doctor fits in is unclear.

Despite many comings and goings and switches between parts, nobody's motivations are explained and the look and feel are nowhere near adequate to justify the money.

The young award winners may have many good ideas but too few of them work on stage. Maybe next time?

Reviewer: Philip Fisher