Laughs and thrills aplenty

bY John Shawcroft

THE keynote of the Theatre Royal Nottingham’s Classic Thriller Season is murder, mystery and suspense.

But it’s also about entertainment and Nottingham audiences got the full dose in the season’s opening from Antony Shaffer’s Whodunnit.

It offered comedy and plot twists right to the very end, with continual revelations leading up blind alleys.

A mysterious hostess invites six strangers for dinner at 1930s Orcas Champflower Manor, appropriately in the depths of the countryside.

Little do they suspect that they will be threatened with blackmail by one of their fellow guests, the loathsome Andreas Capidistriou (John Goodrum). It emerges that everybody has something to hide and Capidistriou exploits this to the full. A respected family lawyer (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas), a Rear-Admiral (John Hester), an aristocrat (Susan Earnshaw), a sweet young thing (Jo Castleton), a black sheep (Chris Sheridan), and an eccentric archaeologist (Karen Henson) – all are easy targets. As is a wonderfully over-the-top inebriated butler (Patric Kearns).

You can’t really write much more about the plot without giving the whole thing away but it is safe to say that there are a couple of murders and that nobody is quite what they seem.

It’s all a bit much for Nicholas Briggs’s Inspector Bowden of the Yard and his sidekick (Al Naed).

This is a comedy thriller and the Agatha Christie murder mystery genre becomes a target, with the investigations in a library fit for purpose with its dark wood and wall-mounted swords. Bowden, donning cape and hat, carries out a prolonged reconstruction but it all goes pear-shaped. There are laughs a-plenty amidst an intricate and twisting plot that demands attention to the end.

It represents a new venture for the classic thriller team and it is unquestionably one of their best efforts.

Long-terms connoisseurs will welcome Patric Kearns’s mention of colleagues from seasons past Richard Colson and Bruce Green and it all makes for a splendid evening’s entertainment.