Friday, 31 October 2014

Dangerous Corner

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Three stars
A shot in the dark and the shrill scream that begin J.B. Priestley's
philosophical thriller don't tell the full story of something possessed
with the airs and graces of a hokey drawing-room whodunnit, but which
ends up as a tortured treatise on human nature's power to deceive.
These attention-grabbing noises off are themselves a theatrical double
bluff, as they open out onto a post dinner party scene where the ladies
of the extended Caplan clan are making small talk. A cigarette box
seems to carry more weight than anyone is letting on, and only when the
gentlemen enter does revelation upon revelation pile up alongside the
much missed figure of the late Martin Caplan.

Martin was the social glue and a whole lot more besides of a publishing
set steeped in the well turned out veneer of its own fiction. Sex,
drugs, love and money are all in the mix, be it straight, gay, between
husbands, wives and other part-time lovers. If only they'd managed to
tune in to some dance music on the wireless, all involved would have
remained blissfully suspicious of each other.

All this must have been pretty shocking when Priestley premiered his
first stage drama back in 1932. This is something that's hard to
recapture in Michael Attenborough's solid but hardly earth-shattering
production for the Bill Kenwright organisation. A handsome-looking cast
led by Michael Praed as dashing bachelor Charles Stanton nevertheless
play it as straight as they can in a show where archness must be hard
to resist. Only when the play lurches in on itself in its final moments
do we see the potential for something darker, sexier and more
self-destructive.

The Herald, October 30th 2014


ends





No comments: