Bill Kenwright’s Agatha Christie Company previously travelled the UK with original stage plays of some of the author’s greatest works including The Hollow, And Then There Were None and Murder on the Nile. The company put on a major new production each year for ten years running, each beginning at the Theatre Royal in Windsor before embarking on national tours. Now, under the banner of The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, this stellar cast present a fast-paced, fantastically fun thriller based on the 1938 film directed by none other than Alfred Hitchcock.
Socialite Iris (wonderfully portrayed by Lorna Fitzgerald) is travelling home from continental Europe to London to marry an aristocrat, seemingly not for love, but for the title it brings. Before she climbs aboard, she receives a blow to the head but is helped onto the train by a friendly, elderly lady by the name of Miss Froy. Later that day it appears that Miss Froy has promptly vanished, yet all of Iris’ travelling companions deny ever having seen the woman. Panic ensues and with the help of a young, and rather handsome, musicologist, Iris is determined to solve the mystery of her lost friend.
To an almost sold out auditorium, the curtain goes up to reveal a platform at the train station. The impressive set, lighting and sound create the perfect atmosphere, transporting us to that platform; we can see the steam, hear the engines and watch the passengers and staff bustling about. The image is also a powerful one with Swastika banners prominently hanging from the rafters and a Nazi officer patrolling the action. The story is based just before the onset of World War II and throughout the play there are numerous references to the political situation, often made humorous by English cricket enthusiasts Charters and Caldicott (Robert Duncan and Ben Nealon respectively, both providing light-relief with great comic timing and comradery).
Most of the play is set on the train itself; another feat of wonderful set design. The compartments swing on from both wings and the action is pinpointed by the opening and closing of the sliding doors. The dining and luggage cars are simply represented with tables and chairs, holdalls and suitcases and, very successfully, there is no pretence that this is ‘theatre’; the cast themselves pushing the pieces on and off, frequently not in black out.
With a star-studded cast, superb set, lighting and costume design and a fun-filled, dynamic plot this production is one not to miss, especially if you’re a fan of the good old whodunnit! The Lady Vanishes is touring the UK until the end of July 2019.
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
February 4th-9th 2019
Written By: Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder
Adapted By: Antony Lampard
Director: Roy Marsden
Designer: Morgan Large
Lighting Designer: Charlie Morgan Jones
Sound Designer: Dan Samson
Choreographer: Chris Cuming
Fight Director: Richard Leggett
Dialect Coach: Helen Ashton
Cast includes: Juliet Mills, Maxwell Caulfield, Lorna Fitzgerald, Matt Barber, Robert Duncan, Philip Lowrie, Ben Nealon, Elizabeth Payne, Mark Carlisle, Joe Reisig, Natalie Law, James Boswell, Cara Ballingall