Cheryl Barrett | 16 Feb 2016 15:54pm
Photo: Paul Jennings
This ‘Dangerous Corner’ should not be avoided
I spent an enthralling Friday night at the Apollo Players production of the J.B. Priestley play ‘Dangerous Corner’ at the Apollo Theatre, Newport, Isle of Wight. The only Priestley play I had seen and studied previously was ‘An Inspector Calls’.
‘Dangerous Corner’ is the first of Priestley’s ‘Time ‘plays. It is a type of whodunit with a very cleverly constructed and complex plot. It is one of those plays where you become totally involved in trying to work out who is telling lies then, just when you think you understand, a series of revelations unravel… I won’t give any spoilers away.
The action takes place at a dinner party in 1932. Hosts Freda and Robert Caplan have invited a group of friends, an author and colleagues of a publishing company to their home. As they chat in the drawing room after the meal a chance remark is made about a musical cigarette box, which opens a box of well-kept secrets from the past. As the action unfolds party host Robert Caplan is determined to get to the bottom of the mysteries surrounding the death of his brother Martin. The façade of middle class society is stripped away as the tangled web of clandestine relationships and deceit reaches a crescendo.
The play was unique in its day as it ends with time slipping back to the beginning of the evening as they listen to the aptly named radio play, ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, and shows what would have happened if the chance remark had not been made.
It was a joy to observe Priestley’s characters as they are brought vividly to life by these accomplished actors. The genteel and dignified nature of Olwen Peel was played beautifully by Maria Wilkinson throughout, her manner and speech conveying the era perfectly. Steve Reading delivered a fine performance showing Robert Caplan’s determination as he demanded the truth of his brother’s last moments, and his disappointment in Betty when she reveals her own secret. Helen Reading, looking very much the part in a fab costume, was superb as his wife Freda. Ian Moth depicted a very suave Charles Stanton. Whilst young couple Gordon and Betty Whitehouse were played by Jack Tutt and Amelia Havard respectively – delightful performances from these two – Jack Tutt captured Gordons’s impetuousness and devil-may-care attitude perfectly. Maureen Sullivan completed the line up with a lovely portrayal of Miss Mockridge.
Not only does director Di Evans maintain the pace of the piece, she has cast a well-matched ensemble that draw out the emotions of their respective characters at each reveal. The staging works well and we are not subjected to static characters – there is plenty of movement.
The superb 1930s Art Deco set, designed by Paul Jennings, with its wonderfully lit window certainly sets the scene, as does the authentic looking radio. A particular mention should be made of the excellent costumes. All were of the period with the women’s costumes suiting each character – a few of us coveted Freda’s period jacket. Lighting and sound suited the era and mood of the play.
The Apollo Players gave a creditable production of this timeless classic. The audience were totally engrossed in the action unfolding on the stage, due to the well-written script and superb acting from all involved. It was encouraging to see an almost full house, which says as much for the good reputation of this society as it does for the play. Well done to all involved.
I haven’t included any spoilers as this highly recommended production continues at the Apollo Theatre, Newport until Saturday 20th February.
Photo: Ian Johnston
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- : 12/02/2016