The Late Edwina Black – February 2008

7/10

By William Dinner and William Morum

Directed by Ian Dickens

Company: Ian Dickens Productions

Venue: Connaught Theatre

Date: Friday 1st February 2008

Both Steve and I went to this convinced we’d seen it before, many years ago, but couldn’t remember the details. Having seen it, either our memories are seriously bad on this one, or we hadn’t seen it before at all. I hope the latter is true. Anyway, it meant we were in for an intriguing evening.

The Edwina Black of the title is a Rebecca-like figure. Her loss is mourned by her faithful servant Ellen, but her husband Gregory is glad she’s dead. As is Elizabeth Graham, Edwina’s companion for several years, who appears to have divided her time between helping Edwina and falling in love with Gregory. He has reciprocated, and now the two of them are planning a little trip to the Italian lakes with Edwina’s money. Ah ha, we think, they’ve bumped her off so they can enjoy their life together. Case solved.

But along comes a detective, Henry Martin, to announce that the Home Office isn’t entirely satisfied with the death certificate and the funeral, scheduled for the next day, will have to be postponed. Concern from both potential murderers. As the story unwinds, we get to see each of them go through the mental strain of the investigation. However, it soon becomes clear (or does it?) that each of them thinks the other one has killed Edwina. They manoeuvre round one another, and it becomes obvious that their relationship isn’t going to survive. All sorts of accusations are flung back and forth, and it’s fascinating to see these two crumbling under the pressure. Eventually, the dogged persistence of the policeman pays off, and with a nice little test involving a cup of tea the guilty culprit is finally exposed. Relief! (For us, not for the two lovers.)

I sort of guessed the answer early on but got distracted by all the other possibilities they were going through, so I can’t claim to have solved it at all. I don’t often get taken on such a roller-coaster ride by thrillers these days (I’ve seen too many of them) so this was a refreshing change. The performances were all fine, and I heard just about everything. The set was standard Victorian drawing-room; chairs by the fire on our left, table and chairs to the right, doors either side, stairs in far right corner, French windows centre back. There were also some wind chimes by the window, Edwina’s favourites, and after establishing these with a breeze blowing through the open doors early on they occasionally moved about when the doors were closed, just to remind the lovers of Edwina’s presence. Spooky. And good fun.

© 2008 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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