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I was intrigued by the title – and indeed by the play, which was gripping, chilling, amusing and certainly kept the mind engaged and active, as well as being very well acted and directed.

The set was excellent – I loved the two levels, which of course were a definite part of the play requirement – the stairs going up through the wings created exactly the right feel, and of course were very good for the final scene! - so well done to Len Skilton for the design and build.  The set was also dressed well, with colourful masks and interesting paintings, plus good glassware and silverware.

I liked the music chosen as an overture and also during the play from time to time to cover scene and costume changes, it was evocative and good to listen to.  Sound effects were also very good.

Julie Field’s direction was spot on – using the stage and the upper level well, and keeping the movement going.  It would have been easy to have the characters sitting or being stationary a lot of the time, but because of the intricacies of the plot the flow of action just added to the anticipation and understanding.

Costumes were suitable, and there were no malfunctions that I could detect!  I liked the effect of the shaving foam when Duncan was supposedly shaving off his beard, and Irene’s fairly quick change into evening dress and very nice hairpiece, which was well done.  In fact there were a number of quick changes, all of which were effected well.

This being a two-hander, there was a lot of pressure on both actors, but they gave us super three-dimensional characters the whole way through, with all the contrasts of emotions – I found it riveting.

Irene Morris as Phillipa started off as the grieving widow, and eventually turned into a scheming manipulative woman, such immense contrasts, the quietness and calm, then progressing to cunning, and eventually rage – fascinating, and so well acted.

Jonathan Field played Duncan – the down and out elevated from life in a cardboard box, to the life of Phillipa’s supposedly dead husband Richard.  Again such good dimensions to his performance – his menacing side when stating that he could easily kill Phillipa, the softer side to him, the evil drinker, it was all there.

I must admit that initially I found Jonathan’s Scottish accent a little hard to decipher, but after the first couple of lines my ear attuned to it, and I then became envious of his ability to trip between the Scottish accent of Duncan’s birth and the English upper class accent of Richard.  When Duncan spoke the words ‘stone cold’ I felt a little chill go down my spine!

The transformation between the two men was good – and although the false beard was commented on, the reason for it soon became apparent, which people would not have been aware of if they didn’t know the play.  

The final scene when Duncan as Richard supposedly fell down the stairs was excellently accomplished – and the appearance of Richard from the other side of the stage caused astonishment, and then of course the rest of the plot unravelled.  I liked the way that Jonathan as Richard was just that little bit different to Duncan as Richard, I didn’t like Richard at all, nasty little man – whereas Duncan did have his redeeming features!

As a play it certainly kept us on our toes with all the twists and turns of the plot line, and that fact that it was first-class on all levels, made it a thoroughly entertaining, enthralling evening.

Wheathampstead Dramatic Society


Review date: 19th Feb 2015

Memorial Hall, Wheathampstead

Director: Julie Field


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