Director Anthony Banks has taken a bold gamble here, by taking the classic Frederick Knott thriller, relocating it from 50s America to 60s London, and bringing a campy approach to the production. Yet it works, after a slightly tentative opening scene establishing the affair between Margot (Sally Bretton) and Max (Michael Salami).
Tom Chambers as slighted husband of Margot, Tony Wendice, is a gleefully conscience-free narcissist, deploying his lithe dancer’s physicality to the character.
Such carefree misogyny is reinforced in the scenes with Captain Lesgate (Christopher Harper) as he cooks up a blackmail plot to get back at Lesgate and kill his wife, all of which backfires in spectacular style.
Lizzie Powell’s lighting, particularly when using strobes, brings much needed chills to the production: a real sense of menace as Tony’s true character emerges. David Woodhead’s set oozes swinging sixties affluence, but some of his costumes for Max seem more seventies than sixties- the only jarring factor here.
Sally Bretton is dignified and elegant throughout, portraying trauma and confusion beautifully in the second half. It’s a superb Christopher Harper, though, who is triumphant as the idiosyncratic Inspector Hubbard, a real quirky Northern contrast to his swaggering Lesgate with curling London vowels. His performance is outstanding.
Such light and shade is at the heart of this frenetic, irreverent and compelling piece. It’s all about the contrasts. That old reactionary Alfred Hitchcock wouldn’t have approved, I suspect, which is all to the good.
At Theatre Royal Glasgow until Saturday 7th March,2020. Touring across the UK.