“Eunice struggles to fit in. When she joins a wealthy family as their housekeeper the very reason for her awkwardness, long hidden and deeply buried, leads inexorably to a terrible tale of murder in cold blood – on Valentine’s Day. Ruth Rendell’s brilliant plot unravels a lifetime of deceit, despair and cover-ups which, when revealed, brings a shocking revelation almost as grizzly as murder itself.”
Bill Kenwright presents a new production adapted from one of the most celebrated works of the writer often hailed as the successor to Agatha Christie.
The Classic Thriller Theatre Company delivers an evening of mystery, laughter and clever storytelling. Set in 1970’s Britain, the performance brashly addresses the mixing of different classes and social standings. Mark Wynter and Rosie Thomson play the magnificently self-important Coverdales, a pompous couple living in a large country house. Their idiotic commentary and cringe-worthy singing and dancing brings well-timed humour throughout the show, and it is clear Wynter and Thomson have taken great care developing and honing their characters. Leading lady Eunice (Sophie Ward) slowly develops as the play builds – particularly after a few encounters with the rambunctious Joan Smith (Deborah Grant). Watch out for the scene with the sweet tin! It’s a fascinating relationship to watch, veering frantically between compassion and domination – the word “grooming” sprung to mind as I watched. I do feel a little more could have been revealed and explored about Eunice, as revelations are not linked and teased out consistently. I enjoyed the flashback style of performance and felt it was a creative and seamless way to keep the energy high despite the fixed set. Antony Costa (Gardener Meadows) brings some eye candy to proceedings and it was great to see him back at the Waterside Theatre, although I would have liked a bit more bad boy attitude (and some slightly more realistic looking gardening clothes, his were far too clean and neatly ripped!) The Coverdale children brought many questions to my mind, but left the majority unanswered. Both Jennifer Sims and Joshua Price were obnoxiously vile as Melinda and Giles, and in my opinion created a shrewd tactical diversion. As the final scenes revealed the killer and motive I was slightly underwhelmed, as I had anticipated more explanation, more backstory and more conclusion. The final scene fell a little flat, unable to match the intense first half that had so playfully kept the audience guessing whodunnit?
Definitely a worthwhile evening out – even if only to watch Deborah Grant singing and rambling maniacally whilst standing on a table!
Tickets for performances at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre can be purchased using the link below (show running until 3rd June 2017)