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The Postman Always Rings Twice review at Playhouse Theatre London

West End shows should be events, something above the norm, shows that have won the right to be, effectively, a jewel in the crown of world theatre.

And that event has to be more than just allowing London’s audiences to come and ogle a Hollywood star. The Postman Always Rings Twice fails to deliver. Ho ho. Lucy Bailey’s uninspired direction fails to escape the viscosity of Andrew Rattenbury’s pedestrian script.

Characterisation is weak. There could be danger in Frank Chamber’s violent drifter, daring in Cora Papadakis’ decision to run away with him, and real empathy with both characters as their love begins to blossom despite being overshadowed by the terrible crime they commit. What of the racial overtones behind the killing of a harmless Greek man? There is none of this. Who cares what happens to the two doomed lovers? Not the audience, that is for sure.

Val Kilmer does his best. Certainly he squeezes into the character sketched out for him. He finds an element of danger, of unpredictability, but there is not much else. The recreation of the famous sex/rape scene is animal and sweaty, but it is the high point and it comes in the first 20 minutes.

Charlotte Emmerson’s Papadakis seems groundless. There is no method in her madness and consequently she can never quite be believed as a character. Emmerson herself is technically very good, but what is the point of being a proficient driver in a Morris Minor?

Production Information

Playhouse Theatre, London, June 7-July 30

Andrew Rattenbury, apapted from the novel by James M Cain
Lucy Bailey
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Incidental Coleman, Ambassador Theatre Group and Maidstone Productions in association with Hilary Williams
Cast includes
Val Kilmer, Joe Alessi, Charlotte Emmerson, Keith Bartlett
Running time
2hrs 30mins

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