On stage in Deadly Nightcap are, back, from left, Alex Quilter, Colin Bish, Joan Savill, Victoria Pitt, Pete Harris, with, front, Carolyn Ferguson and Danny Carmichael. Picture by Peter Boam.
STAGE REVIEW A CASE of murder, intrigue, double-crossing and greed has come to Cowes.
Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society is presenting Francis Durbridge’s Deadly Nightcap, at the Trinity Theatre in Cowes, over two weekends, with two more performances to be seen tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday).
The cast of this production, directed by Jane Maclean, received a blow just three days before the curtain went up, as Bob French was too ill to play lead character Jack Radford, and Danny Carmichael had to step into the breach.
He took to the role of cruel Mr Radford convincingly, so much so it was easy to ignore his dependence on the script as he made efforts to blend it into his character’s newspaper reading, or opening of letters.
The cast were understandably tense on their opening night, taking a couple of scenes to settle in to their roles, though this may have helped Carolyn Ferguson’s fraught Sarah Radford, a wealthy housewife, as she included interesting details such as fiddling with a necklace, and adjusting various set pieces.
Christine Hillier played Kate Warren, a supposed friend to the wealthy couple, as earnest and amusing, providing a dark storyline with brightness, and occasional comic relief.
Wayne Child’s Superin-tendent Cliff Jordan gave a strong and calming presence, though he seemed more comfortable playing him as the notepad-yielding detective, than the later cravat-wearing novelist.
The set piece showed a living room, in what we imagine must be an impressive house, as reference is made to a swimming pool and studio outside. All action takes place in this room, from the most mundane dinner scenes, to the most dramatic murder scenes.
The play is split in to two acts, with each scene representing an evening or morning, and with many ending on cliffhangers, eliciting gasps from the audience. After any such cliffhanger, the sudden dropping of the lights added nicely to the suspense.
This production was nicely put together considering last-minute cast stand-ins and, as a murder mystery fan, was enjoyable.
Any line fluffs, or forgotten words were covered with character eccentricities, and support from the fellow cast, and stilted moments will melt away as the players get used to their lives on stage as victims, suspects, and murderers.