Audience with Murder well acted, exquisitely plotted

AUDIENCES need to be alert to follow the terrifically twisted plot of Audience with Murder, the tightly wound modern thriller that Redbridge Stage Company chose for the Kenneth More Theatre last week. This play, by Roger Leach and Colin Wakefield, opens w

AUDIENCES need to be alert to follow the terrifically twisted plot of Audience with Murder, the tightly wound modern thriller that Redbridge Stage Company chose for the Kenneth More Theatre last week.

This play, by Roger Leach and Colin Wakefield, opens with four characters reading through a play preparatory to putting it on at their local theatre. But as the action progresses, it becomes clear that one of the characters has written the play to tease out the details of the four's complicated real-life relationships.

For a while, the dialogue switches between the script of the putative play and the increasingly venomous exchanges between the characters as themselves.

Not an easy piece to describe, but an evening of taut and suspenseful entertainment that resembles a Russian doll - each plot contains another inside. It is also shot through with the kind of dark humour that helps to ramp up the tension.


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Director Liz Calnan didn't need to do much coaxing to elicit strong performances from her talented cast, and she kept the action taut and well paced.

Christine Keates, whose performances always grace the stage, was strong and convincing as the tormented Sue, who writes a play as a way to assuage her grief at losing a daughter and to hit back at her philandering husband Alan, played with arrogance and braggadocio by the equally talented Reg Wheeler.

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Katie Waller and Martin Porter were equally good as their younger fellow players Kelly and Dean, milking all the menace latent in the growing doom of the situation.

Gradually, the four ratcheted up the tension, almost to breaking point, and there were audible sighs from the audience at crucial moments in the action (always a good sign).

The first act ends with two corpses - Alan and Dean - after an accident over the drinks.

When the curtain rises after the interval, it becomes clear that the characters we thought we knew in Act 1 are, in fact, a cast rehearsing for a show at the KMT, where we are the audience (fireman Dick Porter got a mention for verisimilitude). Sue and Alan and Kelly and Dean are revealed to be actors with other names, and their characters are all reversed; for example, the downtrodden Sue is the harpy Bev, a foulmouthed actress who dominates her much milder husband, again played by Reg.

Once again blood begins to flow, and audience members are on the edge of their seats.

The play has some age issues - for example, the relationship between Sue and the far younger policeman doesn't feel convincing, and I'm not sure what it added to the piece. But this play is well written observed and exquisitely plotted and Redbridge Stage did it justice.

- SUE LEEMAN

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