Thriller keeps you guessing to the end

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LIFE could not be better for top cardiac consultant Ross Marquand.

Happily married, with a posh house in the Thames Valley and a host of well-heeled friends, Ross seems to have it all – until his wife Fay drops a bombshell by announcing she has fallen in love with another man.

He is notorious womaniser and all-round bad egg Julian Kane and things go from bad to worse when Ross’s assistant discovers two phials of a drug which is particularly lethal to cardiac patients are missing. Kane is such a patient and when he dies of an apparent heart attack, evidence of the drug is discovered in his jacket pocket.

Ross is immediately in the frame but Kane is found to have a web of enemies and this whodunit will keep you guessing right until the end.

Such are the perfect ingredients for Sweet Revenge, the last of seven plays Francis Durbridge wrote for the stage, which opens the current Classic Thriller season at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.

Durbridge, also a prolific novelist, is best-known as the creator of Paul Temple, solver of crimes on radio and TV and his plays have always proved popular among city audiences.

There is poignancy this year because a tribute is included to the memory of Colin McIntyre, the producer and director whose summer rep company brought 22 consecutive Classic Thriller Seasons to Nottingham before his death earlier this year.

Now the mantle has been donned by his long-time friend and colleague Adrian Lloyd-James, with a cast packed with familiar faces.

Ben Roddy (Ross), Jo Castleton (Fay) and Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas (Julian) are the principals, with excellent back-up from Susan Earnshaw, Chris Sheridan, Karen Henson (who appeared in the very first Colin McIntyre Thriller Season), Nicholas Briggs, John Hester and Al Naed.

The action takes place in the living room of Dr Ross Marquand’s house and, typically in such plays, the drinks cabinet is frequently brought into play.

Patric Kearns directs and Geoff Gilder is the set and costume designer.

The full programme is: Sweet Revenge until August 13, Death by Fatal Murder August 15-20, Strangers On A Train August 22-27 and Murderous Liaisons August 30-September 23.