The Case of the Frightened Lady – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
By Sandra Callard, July 2018
Bill Kenwright, famous and successful producer, has come up with a ‘crime thriller’ stage adaptation of a story by a long-ago, but also successful writer, Edgar Wallace. Kenwright runs the Classic Thriller Theatre Company which deals with theatre productions as above described, with a cast of various distinguished and well-known actors, and ditto directors. Indeed, the one directing this latest production, The Case of The Frightened Lady, is Roy Marsden, an actor/producer of great renown.
How is it then, that the finished product is a mish-mash of awful acting, silly plots and murders, where dead bodies are heralded by a piercing off stage scream, (by whom the screams are emitted we are never told), and the victim is simply announced blandly by name as ‘dead’?
No member of the cast is worried, upset or scared, and there is not a sign of tension from either cast or audience. The whole thing bumbles along with one static stage scene, in this case a room in a stately house, and the characters drift on and off stage with no apparent purpose.
The audience is perplexed, amused and bored, or simply falls asleep. It is the most dreadful attempt at bringing the joy of reading a good crime novel – of which I am a huge fan – to the stage.
The one credible attempt at producing a reasonable performance was by seasoned actress, Deborah Grant, who made a passable job as Lady Lebanon, imperious and demanding, but with no apparent concern that three dead bodies had been found on her property. The motives for the murders were flimsy and tenuous, and the final denouement weak, rapid and ineffective.
It is simply not good enough for patrons of the theatre, and particularly a theatre with such an admirable reputation as the Grand in Leeds, to be presented with a production that purports to be a ‘crime thriller’ and turns out to be a laughable and amateurish attempt to be so.
The audience left the theatre with a variety of responses; heads shaking in disbelief to out-and-out laughter being the most prevalent. I should be writing 550 words on this show, but I hope my editor understands the 350 I have given is already more than this shoddy production deserves.
images: Pamela Raith Photography