Inside Job

Brian Clemens
Darlington Civic Theatre and touring
(2010)

Production photo

Brian Clemens, perhaps best known as the creator of cult classic The Avengers, Bergerac, The Professionals and Bugs, is the author responsible for penning this latest thriller to be presented by theatre impresario Ian Dickens.

Set on the Costa Del Crime, in a remote Spanish villa a mile or so outside Marbella, the plot revolves around the ludicrously named Dutch Holland (Matt Healy). Enjoying a hedonistic life in the sun, under the alias of ‘Larry’, he encounters the stunning Suzy (Michelle Morris), a femme-fatale who makes him an offer he finds impossible to refuse . . . until he later meets her violent, alcoholic husband Alex (Christopher Villiers), who presents an even more tempting proposition.

Ostensibly, Inside Job is a typical stage thriller, complete with dodgy deals, despicable double-crosses and double-bluffs aplenty. What could have been a tense and taught three-hander degenerated somewhat into something of a comedy due, for the most part to some rather stagey over-acting.

Matt Healy’s crook, on the run from Interpol, started off charismatically enough but his tendency to over-exaggerate every gesture, movement and facial expression resulted in his character becoming more of a caricature.

Christopher Villiers’s portrayal of Alex made the character seem as camp as a row of fluorescent pink tents, whilst Michelle Morris, as Suzy, failed to compellingly convince as a woman who is the lust object of many a male desire.

The true star of this production was the set. The Mediterranean converted farmhouse, with its conservatory-style furniture and focal-point chimney breast, evoked a real sense of place. Although the programme notes do not credit a specific ‘set designer’, I can only make an educated guess that it is ‘technical director’ David North who should be applauded.

On the whole, the production is an enjoyable affair that could be transformed into something far more special if the director, Giles Watling, instructed his actors to bring their performances down a little. Nevertheless, Inside Job will undoubtedly appeal to all those theatre-going amateur sleuths out there.

Runs at Darlington until Saturday 24th July 2010, then tours to The Grand Theatre, Swansea.

Steve Orme reviewed this production in Derby

Reviewer: Steve Burbridge