gallow cast


Malvern Theatres


This psychological thriller from the pen of crime maestro Ruth Rendell is a world premiere stage adaptation.

While it’s true to Rendell’s style of strong characterisations and slow developing stories, it’s also surprisingly funny.

Middle Ground Theatre Company is behind this production with Margaret May Hobbs responsible for the adaptation and script.

She brings an unexpected edge of black comedy to a dark plot focusing on kidnapping, suicide and obsession.

Although there are some unsettling themes, there is always a laugh around the corner to lighten the mood.

At times, however, the jokes distract from traumatic events taking place or being described and could have done with being reigned in a little to give more impact to the crime elements of the show.

There’s a well-known cast of soap opera and TV faces to add to a good split set featuring different rooms and backdrops to keep the drama gently bubbling along.

It centres around strange young man Sandor, played by Joe Eyre and depressed teenager Joe, who he saves from throwing himself under a train in the opening scene.

Dean Smith, known from TV series Waterloo Road, is a suitably sensitive and awkward Joe. While Paul Opacic - Steve Merchant in Emmerdale - is a solid love interest as a single dad who gets caught up in the kidnapping of a millionaire’s wife.

Stealing the limelight from them all is Karen Drury as Sandor’s overbearing and eccentric mother Diana. Drury has been in many a TV show but is probably most known as Susannah Farnham in Brookside.

With an emphasis on character development, this isn’t so much a mystery or whodunit but instead a psychological drama with a range of interesting people and encounters.

There’s some poignant moments thrown in, particularly on a bench at a train station. But there are also bizarre scenes and explanations that are a little baffling and unrealistic.

That said, it’s an enjoyable drama with strong performances, even if the plot is a tad silly and unrealistic. To 27-01-18.

Alison Brinkworth


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