As far as theatrical thrillers go, it all starts conventionally enough.
The scene is set in a 1930s English stately home, where murder most foul has been committed during a fancy dress party. But whodunnit? The finger of suspicion could quite easily be pointed at any one of those present, and so it is left to Inspector Tanner – as well as us, the audience-turned-amateur-sleuths watching on – to deduce the murderer/s during two hours of twists and turns.
The Case of the Frightened Lady is the second offering from Bill Kenwright’s touring Classic Thriller Company, which acts as something of a sister company to the already well-established Agatha Christie Theatre Company. As such, Agatha Christie fans will notice a familiar feel to the show, which shares many similarities with previous productions, most noticeably the lavish stage set which greets us from the moment the curtain is raised.
It also features a cast of familiar faces from the big and small screens, with Gray O’Brien of Coronation Street fame doing a solid job leading the line as the superintendent, and a manic show-stealing performance from Ben Nealon.
And while the story, from the pen of Edgar Wallace, doesn’t quite reach the same heights of suspense as the Queen of Crime herself, the red herrings and false clues did enough to wrongfoot me throughout, and kept me guessing right until the end.