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Review: The Lady Vanishes (Theatre Royal Brighton)

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 )

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