The Case Of The Frightened Lady – February 2018

Experience: 7/10

By Edgar Wallace, adapted by Antony Lampard

Directed by Roy Marsden

Company: The Classic Thriller Company

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Thursday 8th February 2018

Perhaps I’m being a bit kind to this production, but I often find I lower my expectations for these old-fashioned plays: as long as the cast turn in a decent set of performances, the staging is suitably brisk and the set and costumes don’t let the cast down, then I’m prepared to enjoy myself. And that’s how it turned out tonight. The story managed a surprise or two, there were some good laughs, and the cast made the most of their fairly thin characters to provide us with an entertaining evening.

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Fallen Angels – March 2014

Experience: 7/10

By Noel Coward

Directed by Roy Marsden

Presented by Bill Kenwright

Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Date: Thursday 13th March 2014

I have no recollection of seeing this play before, but both Steve and our records show that I did, back in 1982. That production clearly didn’t make much of an impression; this one did a lot better. The plot soon reminded me of The Merry Wives Of Windsor – I don’t know if that was Coward’s intention, but he’s written a very funny mirror-image version of that play in a similar vein to Rattigan’s Less Than Kind. (Funnily enough, the recent production we saw of that play also starred Sarah Crowe.) There are two postcards with identical content and two wives whose marriages have become rather dull over time. When a flame from their pre-marriage past announces his intention to visit, their libidos kick in and anything can happen. Unlike the Merry Wives, these two have every intention of being ‘fallen angels’, but with complications galore, neither gets the chance – at least, not before the curtain falls.

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Volcano – June 2012

7/10

By Noel Coward

Directed by Roy Marsden

Venue: Richmond Theatre

Date: Thursday 7th June 2012

Both Steve and I were strongly reminded of a Somerset Maugham play when the curtain rose on this set: the tropical island setting, the sound of the insects and the sense of the heat, although the couple in a sexual clinch on the ground was perhaps a tad unusual. The similarity was enhanced because Jenny Seagrove had been in The Letter, a Maugham play we saw back in 2007. In this current production she played Adele, the widow of a plantation owner on the fictional island of Samolo. She was attracted to Guy Littleton, a married man who’d been spending time on the island for business reasons, and to enjoy her company, but her past experiences have left her reluctant to become involved in such a liaison. His wife Melissa arrived on the island to check up on this possible affair, and her visit coincided with the arrival of one of Adele’s friends, Ellen, a fresh young thing whose own recent marriage was running into trouble. With Guy finding Ellen more amenable than Adele, Melissa had a tough time of it, and her jealousy led them all into danger when she refused to leave Adele’s house until Guy and Ellen returned from a trip up the erupting volcano on which Adele’s house is built.

After the eruption, Ellen’s husband Keith finally turned up, and we learned what a small world it is; Guy and Keith were at school together, with Keith hero-worshipping Guy above and beyond. The relationships eventually resolved themselves, and Adele was finally left to enjoy her solitude and run her plantation.

There were good performances all round and a lovely set, but somewhat ropey effects during the eruption itself which caused some sniggers from the audience. We enjoyed ourselves well enough, and although this isn’t Coward’s best work, it’s still worth reviving from time to time.

© 2012 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me