Review - The Case of the Frightened Lady at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

The Case of the Frightened Lady

I suspect that if ever there was a case of a misleading title in theatre land, this might well be the case.

Indeed during the interval, there were more than a few people asking who the titular frightened lady. I guessed it was supposed to Isla Crane but she doesn't seem to be that scared.

The story sees a young chauffeur murdered on the night of a fancy dress party. It's up to Chief Superintendent Tanner to solve a murder which threatens to expose the many dark secrets of the distinguished Lebanon family.

If there was a word I would use to describe the show, it is static. The set doesn't change, the actors more or less stand still and deliver their lines and there is very little action. Even the action that does happen isn't all that convincing.

You can have a brief case of detective work of trying to work out the killer but you don't need to use too many little grey cells or a magnifying glass to work out who the killer is. The set up leaves only about two candidates and frankly not enough is done of the other characters to have even made them look even slightly guilty.

While it is a case of many whodunnits that the actors have to bring as much as possible to relatively small parts. This can mean going a little OTT which can be fun to watch in the many Poirot and Marple adaptations, or you could take the approach favoured more recently which is for ultra realism and intensity. The actors here go for neither, making the material quite flat and dull to watch. I don't really want to pick on anybody as pretty much the entire cast are guilty of it to some point.

It is never explained who attacked Lord Lebanon in the first half. Or maybe it was, and was in such a stupor that I failed to spot it. In fact, pretty much all the interesting action, the two murders, the aforementioned attack, all happens off stage. It feels disconnected when being presented and you feel more could have been done with the fancy dress setting of the story to provide a more interesting whodunnit.

And there are several things which were interesting, such as the brief romantic interest that Mr Totti had in Isla Crane which could have been explored in more detail.

You felt that everything was there, but nothing came together quite as cohesively. Pretty much everything needed to pitched up a lot more, and it would have made for a more interesting experience.

Having enjoyed all of the previous efforts by the same team who put on splendid adaptations of Agatha Christie's best known works, the last two plays, this and A Judgement in Stone have both been below standards. As someone said on the way out, it was more like The Case of the Bored Audience.

The Case of the Frightened Lady can be seen until Saturday February 24. Tickets can be booked by clicking here.

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