Nottingham Theatre Royal – until Saturday 16 July 2022
Reviewed by Louise Ford
Are critics human?
It’s a bit tricky reviewing a play that has as its central theme the damage inflicted on both authors and actors by heartless critics. So here’s a gentle review!
Tonight was the first performance in the three week Classic Thriller season for 2022. The season is made up of three different plays, this evening it was “a cunning thriller” written by Tudor Gates.
The scene is set with hits from the 70s, the year is 1978. The curtains open on a sparsely furnished flat. With mismatched furniture, offensive curtains and pride of place a tape recorder on the impressive desk. All the action takes place in the flat ,allowing the claustrophobic atmosphere to develop.
It’s an orchestrated meeting of two mis-matched men, one John Smith/Terry (played by John Goodrum) the other Arthur/Agatha/Agi Christie (played by David Gilbrook). One is a theatre critic with a past the other is an actor/writer without a future. One dressed in white shirt and beige trousers the other in a suit with a raincoat,floppy hat and an umbrella.
There are false pretences, recordings, nods and winks to the audience, plot twists and humour, dramatic and literary references all over the place, high camp and blood soaked shirts.
It is very wordy and although both actors delivered their lines impeccably the pace didn’t feel quite right. In someways the story lends itself to a radio play rather than the stage. As there isn’t a detective or sleuth involved in the play the audience have to work their way through the plot which heats up in the second act.
Just to reassure you that Agatha Christie the Queen of Crime doesn’t appear in the play, although she is heavily referenced. As are other films and plays that centre on the perfect crime!