THE CROOKED ROAD
Hutton Players at the Brentwood Theatre
Disabled daughter of a general, Helen Croft [Margaret Goldstone] has fallen on hard times. Reduced to taking in paying guests, she graciously holds out a helping hand to those in need.
But her scrapbook of deserving cases serves a darker purpose – blackmail.
Janet Allen's wordy potboiler [“intensely realistic drama”, say the publishers] premièred in 1958. It is rarely revived.
The Hutton Players' production, directed and designed by Ray Howes, used the space effectively to suggest the large garden, with ingenious sliding gauzes for the changes of scene. There were some fine performances, telling mood shifts, and dramatic confrontations. But not enough to make this old-fashioned piece, redolent of tea-tray matinées and weekly rep, into a worthwhile revival.
William Wells successfully inhabited the complexities of his character, the drug addict who “ finds release from a sadistic, possessive woman in the hardest, most honourable way “ - I quote the blurb again. And I liked Margaret Corry's Rose – a proud and touchingly maternal housekeeper. A little more contrast between Helen and her sister [Chrissie O'Connor] would have helped the drama, but both had their moments – Helen's hospital monologue for example. The below-stairs lovers were pertly played by Claire Hilder and Marc Barnes.