Posts Tagged ‘Duncan Gates’

The Old Red Lion Theatre had a huge success the same time last year with the world premiere of Arthur Miller’s first play No Villain, which transferred to the West End. Within minutes of it starting, you knew it was Miller. This J B Priestly piece was his second novel in 1928, then filmed by James Whale in 1932, but this is its world premiere on stage, and its an adaptation. Unlike the Miller, you wouldn’t really know it was Priestly if you hadn’t been told. If only it was a fraction as good as the Miller, though in all fairness the genre isn’t my favourite, even though Priestly is a favourite playwright.

The Waverton’s and their friend Roger get lost driving through the borders of Wales at night in a dreadful storm and take shelter in a scary mansion occupied by the equally scary Femm family. William and Gladys then arrive, but they aren’t a couple, which we soon discover when Gladys takes a shine to Roger. In addition to the Femm family, the mansion houses the even more scary butler Morgan. It’s more about the comic gothic horror than it is the story. There’s a lot of short scenes with people forever going in and out of doors and I’m afraid I found it irritating and inconsequential. It didn’t really go anywhere, but as I said, it isn’t my genre.

They make great use of the small space with an excellent design by Gregor Donnelly and staging by Stephen Whitson. There’s great sound and lighting. The acting is all very tongue-in-cheek. I appreciate that the novel / film was to some extent the first of its type and an influence for later things like The Rocky Horror Show, but I just couldn’t understand why Duncan Gates bothered to adapt it for the stage, though it has brought in the Priestly fans (including me!), it’s selling out, and the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it a lot more. So lets just say ‘not for me’ and don’t let me put you off.

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