Mounting tension in entertaining play

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Part of the fun at the Nottingham Theatre Royal Classic Thriller Season rests in the variety of roles facing the cast each week.

It is a typical repertory company.

Take Chris Sheridan, for example.

He was bumped off in the first week and then did the bumping off in the second.

He clearly has the taste for blood, for in the third and penultimate offering, Murder Mistaken by Janet Green, he is again cast as a killer, Edward Bare, who gets the wrong end of the stick when discussing his wife’s will.

This play, directed by Adrian Lloyd-James with set design by Geoff Gilder, is not so much a whodunit as a will-he-get-away-with-it.

It’s not a stabbing or shooting killing either.

Bare hastens the end of his wealthy and ailing wife (Karen Henson) – she is much older so it is easy to guess his motives for marrying her in the first place – with a gas heater and the sherry bottle replacing the knife or gun as weapons of choice.

There are other subtle differences from the normal run-of-the mill thriller.

True, we are in a sitting room of a large, posh house, with the standard prop of the drinks’ table.

But we know the killer from the start and there is no policeman plodding his way through to the final act.

Instead, we have a suspicious family solicitor (Andrew Ryan, of Theatre Royal panto fame) who has little time for Edward and is in no doubt about his guilt, although he cannot offer any proof.

Edward dupes the maid Emmie (Susie Hawthorne) out of her inheritance of £200 ( a large sum in 1953) and then moves on to wife number two, a feisty, rich widow, splendidly played by Susan Earnshaw.

And when a third potential victim arrives in the shape of Jo Castleton, a favourite among thriller season audiences, Edward seems spoilt for choice.

It’s a highly entertaining play, notable for the mounting tension, with a cast in particularly good form.

Next week (August 19-24): Murderer by Anthony Shaffer rounds off this year’s Classic Thriller Season.