Everyone loves a good whodunit. The Grand’s latest offering, Double Death, is less a ‘who’ dunit and more a ‘which one’ dunit. Double Death has a labyrinthine plot that involves a pair of identical twins, a dotty aunt, a severe nurse and an astute detective all rattling around a lonely house in the midst of a raging storm. One will die tonight…
All the tropes were there for a first rate thriller. For me, alas, I felt that we as an audience are far to familiar with such thriller language and plot devices and this led to a lot of the surprise twists and turns being anticipated and the play suffered from a mis-step in its pacing and tensions. We were almost waiting for the moment that ‘X’ happened and ‘Y’ was revealed (I’m avoiding giving any plot spoilers so please forgive what looks like an algebra lesson).
The cast were as confident, sharp and accomplished as we would expect from the Grand’s quality of programming. Familiar faces included The Bill’s Andrew Paul playing against his well known detective role, as the murderous twins in a performance that was both menacing and energetically charged. Also playing an opposite to his most celebrated role as Coronation Street’s very own serial killing Norman Bates with a briefcase was Brian Capron, who for me will always be Rafford from Blake’s 7. In this role he has put aside his murderous leanings and weighed in with a measured performance as what could be best described as a Cornish Columbo. Both Aunt and Nurse were ably performed by Judy Buxton and Kim Tiddy respectively, strong chords in a cast that had its work cut out in running around backstage to keep up with the identical twins plot line.
I felt that the staging was a little lacklustre. The pacing, as I mentioned, was a little off, especially when the play on occasions didn’t seem to know quite what it was, a taught thriller, drawing room comedy, or, as when the main protagonist broke the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience, a postmodern exploration of the rules of the theatrical thriller.
Sadly, due to a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ type of mistake those of us in the dress circle could clearly see one of the play’s major end plot reveals five minutes before it happened. Indeed the rather talkative lady who sat behind me, and seemed to think it was her job to keep up a running commentary throughout, clearly stated for anyone who missed it, “Ooh, you can see his shoes, can you see his shoes? I can see his shoes…”
All in all, it was a good solid production that for me had a few glitches in staging and plot construction. It’s a cracking night out if your leanings are towards the more traditional thriller on stage but do be aware – like its plot, the production does have a few twists and turns.
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