Understandably there was an air of excitement around Perth Theatre on opening night of a play which didn’t even exist two weeks previously. Vivien Adam’s adaptation of the planned Night Must Fall did not meet with approval from Emlyn Williams’ trustees so the author was given a week to come up with another piece to match not only the contracted six actors but Nigel Hook’s excellent fifties set – a country residence of decaying opulence.
The fact that it went off without any apparent hitches is a triumph for all concerned under the directorship of Ken Alexander, whose magic touch is bringing the crowds back to Perth Theatre.
The cast were offered to take the money and run but it is to their credit that the sextet, led by big names Rula Lenska and Nicholas Bailey, did not and so, the curtain went up on an unexpected world premiere.
Keeping it in the thriller mode of the tall, dark stranger genre, the play centres round the not so merry widow Stella – a commanding performance by Rula Lenska – and her transformation following the meeting with Ben, played with controlled menace by Nicholas Bailey.
Needless to say, the family are none too happy when he moves in. Eithne Browne is a delight as sister Susan, the high moralist with an equally high intake of alcohol, while Stewart McLean lends a quiet authority to her husband Neil. There is also good interplay between Joanne Mitchell as daughter Millie and Paul Nivison as her hen-pecked husband Paterson.
A touch of inevitability – not helped by the necessity to have gunshot warnings posted around the theatre – but the author has accurately grasped the fifties feel. A work in progress, perhaps.
Perth Theatre, January 2-February 12
- Vivien Adam
- Ken Alexander
- Perth Theatre
- Rula Lenska, Nicholas Bailey, Joanne Mitchell, Eithne Browne, Stewart McLean, Paul Nivison
- Running time
- 2hrs 5mins