Poole & Parkstone Productions [P&P Productions] The Barrington Centre & Theatre, Ferndown
Steve O’Neill 23 March 2023
My wife divorced a man who would constantly ask her what was going on throughout a play so it was with some trepidation that I leant over to ask her what was going on. I suppose, in a way, it was a relief to know that she had no more idea than me.
Apparently Francis Durbridge was renowned for twisty plots.
It was an odd play with strange inconsistencies. Why did Max’s secretary and his estranged wife only discover news of his death from a phone call from his daughter who’d heard a report on the radio? You’d have thought the police would contact his next of kin first wouldn’t you? And so the strangeness commences. It is a really difficult play. The plot is not only full of twists and turns, it is also full of holes. The characters are, for the most part, bland and uninteresting. And throughout, it markedly fails to build any tension. So it is no small feat that the cast, under the careful direction of Deanna Langford, managed to maintain our interest even if we never got near the edge of our seats.
The play opened on a really nice, well dressed and beautifully lit set. Lighting was great throughout. We are introduced to Liz (Barbara Bone), Max’s secretary, and Harriet (Genette Churchill), his estranged wife. Liz came across as the super efficient secretary with a sympathetic ear for Harriet who was in the throes of a divorce from Max and feeling a little sad and dejected. The pace between the pair was cracking. The phone rings, very, very loudly – the sound effects were all a bit overdone – and we learn of Max’s demise. Moments later Max (Angus Maule) walks through the door.
Scene changes were a bit slow but they were accompanied by some great music. Great music and atmospheric sounds were used throughout to really good effect.
From scene two things began to unravel a bit. Various characters turn up in Max’s house, some through the front door (Crane – Patrick D’Ardenne) others by more nefarious means (Lloyd – Alfie Jacobs). None, apparently, are who they seem to be. So by the time Digby turns up (convincingly played as an “M” type character by Veronica Ryder), seemingly an agent with one or other of the security services, we’re not sure if we should believe her either.
There are other seemingly cameo characters, Jeff the golf pro (Simon Langford), Connie his girlfriend (Dani Warner) and Rose the waitress (Viv Coleman), but what are they hiding?
This is an intriguing play. It maintained my interest throughout as I struggled to understand just what on earth was going on. And so, for all that, it was a really entertaining evening and Deanna and her cast and crew can be pleased with what they’ve achieved.
A Touch of Danger runs until Saturday 25th March at the Barrington Ferndown. Why not go along and see if you can figure out who dunnit?