Tudor Players’ latest offering is penned by the creative mind responsible for the seminal works The Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. It is no surprise then that Ira Levin’s comic thriller is an intelligent play that subverts the regular whodunit conventions.
Way ahead of his time in the 1970s, Levin’s play concerns murder most foul in order to secure intellectual property. Director Peter Howard navigates his fine cast through more twists and turns than Hampton Court. On a piscine note, there are plenty of red herrings and some cod foreign accents. Roger Bingham is terrific as Sidney Bruhl who may or may not be in cahoots with nervous wife Myra, Andrea Howard, regarding bumping off newbie playwright Clifford, John Moran. Although a comedy, one or two violent moments shock as the double-crossing goes exponential.
Judith Wade resists the temptation to go over the top and convinces as psychic neighbour Helga. Her predictions are eerily accurate as she picks up the disturbing energies in the room. Kevin Cheeseright pops up in a cameo as legal adviser Porter Milgrim, not immune to the seductive force of the winning script.
As well as the good players, the set looks first class. The authentic furniture evokes the eighteenth century home nicely. The plethora of weaponry looked frighteningly genuine. Indeed, a certain apprehension arose as Bingham pointed a loaded crossbow at the audience.
Despite the blood-spattered bodies however, Levin maintains a tone of levity, humour and silliness so we are chuckling not quaking in our boots on leaving the theatre.