Thursday, September 10, 2015



at the Criterion Theatre

Last day for Patrick Barlow's send-up of Buchan [and Hitchcock] down in the lovely little Criterion, where the tube trains rumble below and the rich Rococo ceiling glitters above.
A perfect setting for this small-scale shoestring production Рit stands in for the Palladium [cue Sunday Night theme] in the d̩nouement, and its bare stage, fly-ropes and marker tape, a visible reminder of the absurd theatricality of this breathless canter through the familiar plot.
The 1935 film is a constant point of reference – the train [“Coronation Scot” on the soundtrack as the tiny toy chuffs across behind the footlights] and the planes, with Alfred himself one of the wobbly ombres chinoises.
Melodramatic over-acting, and a breathlessly physical style, keeps the pace lively for 100 minutes – the cast has changed almost as often as the Mousetrap since Charles Edwards brought his Hannay to these boards back in 2006. The pipe, the pencil moustache and the stiff upper lip now belong to Daniel Llewellyn-Williams, the women are [mostly] played by Kelly Hotten, and the quick-change broker's men – police officers, Scots matrons and travellers in ladies' underwear – are dazzlingly done by Gary Scotton [a memorably inaudible orator as well as Mr Memory] and understudy Darryl Clark.
This peerless production, directed by Maria Aitken, is off on tour; its place at the Criterion to be taken by Bert Bacharach, I believe.

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