lady conga

The Case of the Frightened Lady

Malvern Theatres


The Classic Thriller Theatre Company is building up quite a reputation for itself in the murder mystery arena.

Although its origins were as The Agatha Christie Company, since changing its name to expand beyond the Queen of Crime, it is still pulling in the crowds.

The Company has been touring successfully with shows like Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone and Rehearsal For Murder. Following in their footsteps at Malvern Theatres (and later in the year at Lichfield Garrick 15-20 October) is this gentle whodunnit by vintage crime writer Edgar Wallace.

This detective thriller is a good old fashioned murder mystery set in the 1930s with the glamour of costumes that comes with that decade.

The scenery impresses, set in the great hall of a stately home, although there’s no stage changes throughout the two and a quarter hour show.

Similar in style to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, the action takes place at a grand old house with various suspects gathering under the scrutiny of Chief Supt Tanner and his Detective Sergeant Edward Totti following a murder.

Tanner is played by TV regular Gray O’Brien, whose also been seen on stage playing another copper - DCI Roy Grace - in a UK tour of Peter James’ Dead Simple.

While Harry Potter movie actor Oliver Phelps (famous for playing George Weasley) was making his stage debut in this show as DS Totti, adding a bit of youthful star quality to the proceedings. He did a fair job but it was O’Brien who exuded more confidence.

The cast in general is a strong one and a forte of the show. It includes former Soldier Soldier actor Ben Nealon, who has become quite a regular in this theatre company’s tours. This time around he’s playing the eccentric lord of the manor with panache.

Then there’s the host of familiar faces like Denis Lill from The Royal, an excellent Deborah Grant from Not Going Out as the domineering mother; and even Philip Lowrie, best known for playing Dennis Tanner in Coronation Street.

Adding some youthful vibrancy as the ‘Frightened Lady’ is April Pearson, who starred in award-winning TV show Skins. 

There’s plenty of mysterious goings on but this is a very light and easy thriller that never delves into suspense or any blood.

There’s some comedy elements provided by the creepy sudden appearances of strange footmen Gilder and Brook, and some knowing looks to the audience when a big clue is hinted at.

It’s very much a character-led tale that relates to pre-WW2 Britain with storylines relating to India, the Great War and the landed gentry.

So, if you like an old school murder mystery that keeps you guessing right to the end, then you won’t be disappointed with this slick, well performed drama. to 21-07-18.

Alison Brinkworth


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