Sat 24th March to Sat 31st March
This suspense-filled thriller about guilt and obsession reveals the true cost of an affair...
When John Haddrell dies of a heart attack at the wheel of his car, the woman at his side is not his wife Margaret but his lover, Julia. House bound, depressed and recovering from the injuries she sustained in the ensuing crash, Julia is visited and supported by a variety of people who try to help her. Among them is Margaret, who apparently knows nothing of the affair. Events take a sinister turn when Margaret begins to encroach on Julia's life. Left alone in the house together, Julia and Margaret are locked in deadly combat in this tense psychological study of guilt and obsession.
Dead Guilty, Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, until March 31. Running time 2 hours 20 minutes.
EVEN with the talented Doreen Belton as its director, I couldn't be swept along by Dead Guilty, the Criterion's psychological drama on offer all this week.
There's something about the storyline which is just so plodding and, dare I say, predictable.
Not that Lucile Knibb didn't shine in her debut role at the Earlsdon theatre. She plays Julia, the young graphic designer injured in a car driven by somebody else's husband - a man she just happens to be having an affair with. Julia 's character is spiky and bitter - but througout Act One there was only one real flash of anger that made me wake-up. This was when she lashes out at neighbour Gary, played by Pete Meredith, who is getting a little too close for comfort.
Then there's kindly social worker Anne (Emma Withers) who also seems to be a tad irritating to jumpy, wise-cracking Julia, and finally the 'oh-so-kind' Margaret, the grieving widow played by Chris Ingall with not quite enough saccharine menace for my taste.
True, things do hot up after the interval, and Julia's gradual deterioration is very convincing, especially her trembling, stick-wielding self as she finally grasps the true nature of the enemy within.
On Saturday first night nerves did lead to one unfortunate husband/wife slip of the tongue from Chris, though I'm sure she won't be making that mistake again.
Nor was I sure about the voiceover finale which seemed a bit clunky.
Apart from a sideswipe at lawyers and rats, playwright Richard Harris doesn't seem particularly hot on dialogue in this piece, which relies heavily on timing and atmosphere. Sadly on Saturday night there wasn't quite enough of either.