Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
Billed as ‘a thriller’ it sets the scene even before the curtains open with the sounds of a raging thunderstorm—a bit worrying considering the weather we have been having lately.
Sound and lighting play a big part in a thriller and the mood continues with darkness and a mysterious capped figure, looking out of a window before coming to the front of the stage and addressing the audience.
It seems he is Max Hennessy (Andrew Paul), one of a pair of twins who hate each other so much that they know one of them has to die (not too sure why this seems essential).
Max is in a remote Victorian house on the north Cornish coast, the old family home where the aunt who brought up the twins still lives. He tells us he’s supposed to be in London, so right away we know he’s up to no good.
The other twin, Ashley, is confined to a wheelchair after a mountaineering accident he believes was caused by his brother, not a comfortable position to be in with murder on the agenda.
Act one continues with Max disappearing up a darkened staircase, being ushered out of one door by the aunt, only to appear through another, dropping a single rubber glove into a waste bin, and telling the audience that there is a gun (somewhere) with several blanks and two live shots.
Act one would drag more than somewhat if it was not for the exceptional performance by Judy Buxton as the aunt Lalla who tends to treat Max as if he is still the little boy she looked after for so long. She is cheerful, tries to be stern as if with a naughty little boy and has a comical and surprising turn of phrase with a few unexpected swear words thrown in.
Eventually, brother Ash is wheeled in accompanied by Nurse Malahide (Kim Tiddy) who produces his medication, pills, potions and syringes—all with the potential to kill—and Ash is horrified to see his brother and fearful for his life.
Act two hots up a lot and there is a nice little twist with an unexpected liaison between two would-be killers. The tension builds towards the end and essential Inspector, DI Fergus (Brian Capron), is on hand to make an arrest.
This is never going to be rival for Woman in Black, but a pleasant enough way to while away a wet and dismal August evening.
Touring to Weston-super-Mare, Buxton, Blackpool, Windsor, Darlington, Lowestoft and Basingstoke.
Reviewer: Sheila Connor