Normal dinner turns into a nightmare for Caplan family

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Dangerous Corner, 
Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

I have always been a great admirer of J.B. Priestley plays, as he was a master of dialogue. His plays are tremendously theatrical and Dangerous Corner is no exception.

His first play it was first produced in the West End in 1932 but it does not seem dated, instead it is a glorious reflection of a time that does not exist any more. A time when it was the norm to dress for dinner and the men looked resplendent in dinner jackets and the ladies looked beautiful in long gowns.

Bill Kenwright’s production, directed by Michael Attenborough, is first class. With an amazing drawing room set designed by Gary McCann who also designed the costumes, and a cast of “old school” actors who all know how to project to perfection, this is theatre at its best.

What starts as a normal evening at dinner turns into a nightmare for the Caplan family when skeletons long hidden are released. There are dangerous corners in everyone’s life when the truth is revealed and that is what this fascinating play is all about.

Finty Williams has inherited her mother Dame Judi Dench’s talent and gives a brilliant performance as Freda Caplan, married to the eldest brother Robert. Another good performance from Colin Buchanan, best known for his portrayal as Peter Pascoe in Dalziel and Pascoe.

Michael Praed makes a welcome return to the town where he grew up to play Charles Stanton, a director in the Caplan family publishing business. Looking good in his dinner jacket he gives a first-class performance as the suave bachelor.

The third member of the board is the rather strange younger brother Gordon whose odd behaviour is explained as the play goes on. Coming from playing the footman who was in love with Daisy in Downton Abbey Matt Milne gets a real chance to show how good he is on stage. His childlike wife who shows her true colours is played by Holby City’s favourite nurse and it is good to see Lauren Drummond’s talented performance on stage after two years in Holby.

Rosie Armstrong plays Miss Mockridge, the company’s most successful author, and the cause of letting the skeletons out of the cupboard is Olwen Peel, played with just the right amount of light and shade by Kim Thomson.

The play is wordy but every word is worth listening to and there is plenty of humour as well. If you like good theatre, Dangerous Corner at Devonshire Park Theatre is a prime example.