An old master who never disappoints

Audiences at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal Classic Thriller Season have a special affinity with the works of Francis Durbridge and the old master never disappoints.

Durbridge wrote a highly-acclaimed series of plays and novels, and the Paul Temple radio series, with its iconic theme tune, Coronation Scot by Vivian Ellis, still resonates.

His plays for the stage are in no way dated – they were written between 1971-2002 – and the point is emphasised this week with The Gentle Hook.

Set in 1977 it is the second offering in the current summer calendar.

Here, Stacey Harrison (Angie Smith) exudes charm, intelligence and sophistication and enjoys a highly successful career.

Separated from her husband Phillip (Andrew Ryan), life is good until she kills an intruder in the living room of her flat.

But doubt is soon cast on her claims that she has no knowledge of her victim and questions are posed, not least by the police.

Soon we are into a world of high-quality art forgery and another murder.

Attention never wavers in this gripping play, which is in the best traditions of the Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season.

Of the eight-strong cast, five appeared in the opening play and another, Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas, directs.

Adrian Lloyd-James, Karen Henson, Chris Sheridan, Richard Sheridan, Al Naed and David Gilbrook complete the cast.

Geoff Gilder’s design is spot-on and with four scenes in the first act, the action moves along nicely.

It has been an impressive start to the season and on the evidence so far the current company maintains the standards that have been set by its predecessors.

Next week (August 12-17): you can see Murder Mistaken by Janet Green.