Brilliant period thriller

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Rope, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne until June 16.

ROPE is the second of a season of three thrillers being performed at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre in June. The short season is being presented by Talking Scarlet and Eastbourne Theatres.

Unfortunately due to the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations I was unable to see the first one but I saw Patrick Hamilton’s famous thriller Rope on the first night of the week-long run. It is on until Saturday June 16 and will be followed by N.J. Crisp’s classic thriller Dangerous Obsession from June 19-23.

Rope was written first as a play but made famous by the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film but this production directed by Patric Kearns remains faithful to Hamilton’s original play.

Two young Oxford undergraduates commit a murder for the want of something to do, you know this as soon as the curtain goes up. What follows is a melodramatic sequence of events leading up to whether they will be found out and face the hangman’s noose – the rope of the title – or whether they will get away with it.

The macabre way they serve supper to their guests on top of the trunk that contains the young man’s body is part the plan concocted by the stronger of the two, Wyndham Brandon, to show he feels no guilt for his crime at all.

RSC actor Samuel Clemens is very well cast as the cocky young Brandon and plays the part well, whilst Dominic Vulliamy is also very good as the nervous young partner in crime who drinks heavily to forget the events of the evening.

But it is Ben Roddy as guest Rupert Cadell who builds up the tension as it becomes obvious he suspects what the two young men have done. He creeps about the stage using a stick to help his limp and he becomes more sinister than the murderers.

This is a brilliant example of a period thriller with excellent acting, a lovely set and good direction. If you cannot catch Rope this week be sure to go to see some of the same cast in Dangerous Obsession next week.

Amanda Wilkins