When I saw the title of this play, my mind went back to the BBC’s excellent, 1985 gritty political thriller of the same name featuring the late Bob Peck and Joe Don Baker, but this drab, formulaic drama by Brian Clemens OBE (creator of The Avengers) is not in the same ball park. The programme suggests a setting shortly after World War 2, but the references to the horse and rig and the servants – ‘A house like this should have six staff,’ says Hardy (Chris Stowe) in the opening scene – suggests an earlier period and Clemens himself set it in the early years of the 20th century.
The plot, featuring a young person who, having experienced some trauma, has lost his/her memory was never very convincing anyway, but it is a tired old plot device these days. There are lots of twists and turns before the full story emerges. Max (Bob Rankin) and Laura (Veronica Ryder) are respectively creepy and weepy and the motives of the putative daughter, Emma (Clare I’Anson), the factotum, Hardy, and the mysterious stranger, Livago (Nick Clarke), keep the audience guessing.
The experienced performers make a good fist of it, there is nothing wrong with the set, the lighting or the direction – but this is hardly the material to attract younger audiences or younger performers to live theatre. The average age of the audience members was probably about 70, but what was there to attract any younger people? We do have exciting modern drama available to perform on the amateur stage – I have reviewed some recently – but this is not it.
There are further performances on 29 September at 7.30 and 30 September at 2.30 and 7.30.