REVIEW - Love From a Stranger at Birmingham's Crescent Theatre will get your pulses racing - The Solihull Observer

REVIEW - Love From a Stranger at Birmingham's Crescent Theatre will get your pulses racing

Solihull Editorial 14th Apr, 2024   0

AS WITH all ‘whodunits’ or – as in the case of ‘Love From A Stranger’ – who may or may not have done something dastardly and deserves an equally dastardly comeuppance – my lips are sealed as to the final who does what to whom. Clear?

To be honest, this collaboration between Agatha Christie and Frank Vosper (Vosper made the play out of a Christie short novel) does not make for one of our most lovable of Agatha’s masterpieces. It’s more of a squib than a banger, textually clunky and in lesser hands than the forensic skills of Director Rod Natkiel, the evening could be a dull one.

In fact the opposite is true – his cast are all fine Crescent A-listers and Natkiel has them wringing every line for often more than it’s worth – additionally he makes their back stories more interesting than their substance.

Being an aficionado of this particular period, Michael Barry is the perfect dialect coach and ensures the players RP (refined pronunciation) is delivered with a classic 1930s film noire elevation.

Designer Poppy Chalmers has created two perfect settings for two different houses in the two acts, allowing the audience in the tri-sided auditorium to always be included in the action, no matter where they are seated. Chalmers attention to detail is commendable and provides the perfect canvas for Vera Dean with Mia Klopotan’s period costumery.




The plot concerns two middle class chums – the wise one, Mavis (Savannah Gallo) and the dreamer, Cecily (Helena Lima) who have won the lottery or rather 1930s equivalent, ‘The Sweepstake’. Cecily is engaged to dependable but boring Nigel (Alexander Pendleton) who Cecily dumps on impulse when a tall, blonde and handsome American called Bruce (Alex Morey –Wiseman) walks into her life.

Outside of these four excellent main protagonists, Julie Lloyd is delightful as Cecily’s dotty and pompous Auntie Loo Loo, injecting some sardonic humour into the proceedings.


Brian Wilson crafts a canny character from his scant few lines as Dr Gribble, Kaitlyn Elward as Ethel makes a lovable clumsy maid (Why are maids always called Ethel?) and Michael Barry, sporting the most glorious of beards, puts in a show-stealing cameo as Hodgson the arthritic gardener.

Collectively, this cast is the Crescent equivalent of ‘Avengers Assemble’ – the synergy between them is impeccable. Helping each other though the odd opening night brain freeze and blissfully deliver the twists and turns Natkiel has extracted from the plot. The countdown to the climax is pulse raising and the long time coming conclusion redeeming – cleverly it leaves some things to our own imagination.

Love From a Stranger runs at The Crescent until next Saturday, April 20. Click here for times, tickets and more information.

 

****

Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews

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