The Lady Vanishes is a play adapted from the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name and presented very successfully in this production by The Classic Thriller Theatre Company.
The play opens with designer Morgan Large using the imagery of Nazi Germany
to set the scene in an extremely striking way. The design of the play
throughout is impressive, notably the train carriage set although it is a shame
that some of the action is blocked at times by it. Scene changes are very slick
and the set is utilised well throughout.
There is not a weak link in the cast and director Roy Marsden keeps the pace of
the play moving nicely along. There are some moments where it does not
seem entirely clear to the audience whether the action is meant to be comedic
or dramatic, one example being a fight scene between three of the characters.
Other than this, the direction is clear and strong throughout.
Some of the actor’s German (and other European) accents are more successful
than others in the cast. This is a minor point but in such a strong production it
could be improved upon.
Scarlett Archer as Iris has a brilliantly expressive face and strong voice and
leads the action of the play perfectly. She is well matched by Nicholas Audsley
as Max, who makes his initially abrasive character very likeable.
Denis Lill as Charters and Ben Nealon as Caldicott work perfectly together as a
cricket obsessed pair of English gentlemen. The humour they bring out of what
are essentially stereotypical characters works particularly well because they
make them well-rounded and believable. The audience seem to especially
enjoy their interactions.
Gwen Taylor gives a solid performance as Miss Froy – it is a shame that she
cannot have more stage time in the play! Joe Reisig as the Official is perfectly
cast, with a physically imposing presence on stage. Andrew Lancel as Dr Hartz
is also particularly menacing. Kirsty King as the Beggar must also be mentioned
– although she has a small part singing near the beginning of the play, she has
a beautiful, clear soprano voice that is memorable.
Sound designer Dan Samson and Lighting Designer Charlie Morgan Jones use
their skills to underpin moments in the play, enhancing rather than distracting
from the action.
This adaptation seems particularly timely with its explorations of fascism and
Britishness. An especially strong cast and fantastic design add to it to create a
very enjoyable and high-quality production.
The Lady Vanishes is on at the Theatre Royal Brighton until the ninth of November, tickets are available here -
Review by Tiffany Clark ( @tifflouclark )