Reviewed by Linda Pickford
I am an avid reader of Murder Mystery novels so I was very keen to see The Classic Thriller Theatre Company’s production of The Case of the Frightened Lady at the Princess Theatre in Torquay. I have attended many of Bill Kenwright’s productions of The Agatha Christie Company so was interested to see the new take on this play by Edgar Wallace under the Thriller title.
The entire performance is set in the grand hall of Mark’s Priory, the ancestral home of the Lebanon family. Lady Lebanon is anxious to arrange the marriage of her son to Isla Crane a distant impoverished cousin in order to carry on the family name and traditions. There seems to be an unnatural hurry about the arrangements with both Lord Lebanon and Isla against the whole idea but Lady Lebanon accepts no arguments.
The first murder is that of the chauffeur at the annual fancy dress ball attended by the family, household staff and local villagers. Although there are many suspects suspicion soon falls on Doctor Amersham when it is disclosed that the murder weapon was an Indian red scarf. He is universally disliked and also lived and worked in India for many years. Recently he had returned to India to escort Lord Lebanon home when he fell ill during his army tour. Naturally because aristocracy are involved in the case the local Lord Lieutenant insists on the attendance of a Chief Inspector to help solve the case. However, in true Midsomer Murder style a further murder soon takes place and the investigation has to start again.
The large cast consists of many well-known television faces who are directed by Roy Marsden perhaps best known as Adam Dalgliesh in PD James’s detective stories. Although I tried to remember that the play is a vintage whodunnit set in the 1930’s I still found it slightly overacted with dramatic movements around the stage coupled with shouting. Perhaps a change of scenery would have helped with the constant movement through one door or another. The two footmen appear at strange moments and always seem to know more than they should. Hence the running joke (the only one) about someone is listening!
All together I quite enjoyed my evening although I had guessed the culprit before the end. It was enjoyed by the audience at our ever-friendly theatre. If you intend to try the play for yourself there are several different parking opportunities in the local vicinity but do check the charges carefully. If you require a meal or snack before the performance there are many bars and restaurants nearby including the newly revamped Breezes Cafe at the theatre itself.
Tickets cost from £16.90 to £42.90 (plus £4 transaction fee).
The Case of the Frightened Lady is at the Princess Theatre in Torquay from 10-15 September 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/torquay or call the box office on 0844 871 3023.
Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, TQ2 5EZ | 0844 871 3023