It's Classic Thriller season at the Theatre Royal and we kick off with Sweet Revenge, an intriguing tale of adultery, betrayal and revenge. This is the first instalment of the series that will run from August 7th to September 2nd. Set in 1970’s London we enter the privileged and dramatic lives of a group of upper class friends and acquaintances. A world filled with celebrities, doctors, sex, drugs and desperate housewives.. so a bit like E4 then.
All the action is set in the living room of Dr Alan Marquand and his wife Faye in their Thames Valley home. Several interweaving story lines in the play all have a connection to the central character Julian Kane, played by Jeremy Lloyd Thomas. Julian is a dashing Danish celebrity who possesses the ability to make woman swoon and fall at his feet, with Faye Marquand no exception. Dr Marquands world is turned upside down with his wife’s announcement she has met and fallen in love with another man. Heartbroken and desperate to keep his wife from leaving him he concocts a devious plan to lure his wife’s lover to his home and murder him. The scene is set; the Marquands host a regatta party at their home that includes a guest list of colourful characters, many whom in one way or another also turn out to have a grudge against the delightfully charming Casanova, Julian Kane. Thus when Julian is found dead at the party the finger falls on every character, who could it be?
This production of Sweet Revenge by Adrian Lloyd James is a particularly enjoyable show for various reasons. Fans of murder mysteries will love it. It has deception, greed, plot twists, motives and best of all it leaves the audience guessing. Everything is left open until the very end with the possibility of any of the characters becoming the murderer.
Set and costume design is fantastic (Bravo to Geoff Guilder). Complete with over the top hairstyles, clothing and colour that stay true to the era, (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas’ Julian provoked a fit of laughter from the audience) for many it would have been like stepping back in time, although for a younger generation it was reminiscent of watching a 1970’s BBC sitcom a la The Goodlife.
What this show lacks and what you'd expect to see in a crime thriller are actual thrills. You're never really shocked or surprised by what's happening on stage and inevitably you never really care who the culprit is. Lighting and sound aren't used well which gives you that niggling feeling you're watching a school play, particularly when lightning sounds after an intense dramatic moment, cue physics teacher with stroboscope.
With all that said though it is an enjoyable piece of theatre, showing tremendous spirit and enthusiasm combined with a guarantee that you'll be talking about all the scenarios and loose ends with your friends after you leave!
Sweet Revenge plays at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 12th August. The thriller season runs until 2nd September with the following shows:
Dial M for Murder - 14th to 19th August
My Cousin Rachel - 21st to 26nd August
Dangerous Corner - 28th August to 2nd September