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Theatre Review: Dangerous Corner

20 July 17 words: Ian Douglas

It’s Murder at the Playhouse

The Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season 2017

The curtain rises on the 1930s and a posh country house. And if there’s one thing the whodunit genre has taught us, it’s that posh country houses are rife with murderous intent.

This play, by no other than JB Priestly, is a little different, in that the death has already taken place. A year before scene one, in fact, with the apparent suicide of rake and all-round bad boy Martin Caplan. The plot revolves around a fateful dinner party where his family and friends gather for drinks and gossip. They’re a smug bunch, revelling in their happiness. Or could their cliquey camaraderie be a front to hide darker truths? And all that is needed is a chance remark for the social fabric to unravel?

Indeed, just such a catalyst comes from author Olwyn Peel, clutching her new manuscript, ‘Sleeping Dogs.’ A bit of foreshadowing in that title, perhaps? Before the evening ends, a string of shocking revelations will ruin marriages and upturn lives, culminating in the discovery of a murderer.

Yes, it’s this year’s summer season of vintage (or vintage style) classic thrillers. Usually these are staged at the Theatre Royal, but due to renovation Dangerous Corner is on at the Playhouse.         

Dangerous Corner was written by JB Priestly in 1932. But this is not Priestly at his best. He himself called it: ‘pretty thin stuff when all is said and done.’ It is very wordy, all dialogue and no action. Perhaps the only element of note is that one of the male characters is revealed to be homosexual, and in thrall to his jaded male lover. That would be nothing today, but must have seemed very racy in the moral straightjacket of the thirties. Ditto the brief references to drugs and pornography.

Despite the weak script, the audience clearly enjoyed the production and there were plenty of laughs at the stiff upper lips on stage. The cast were all on fine fettle. The set design was minimal and the period costumes a delight for the eyes. There’s a twist in the final scene, which may catch you unawares.

For a night-out, involving harmless escapism and devoid of any deep thinking, this could be just the ticket.

Dangerous Corner runs at the Playhouse from Tuesday 18th July to Saturday 22nd July 2017.

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