Journey full of twists and turns

dangerous corner cast

Michael Praed, left, Colin Buchanan, Lauren Drummond and Matt Milne find themselves in a Dangerous Corner. Picture: Robert Day

Dangerous Corner

Birmingham Rep

****

J.B. Priestley's Dangerous Corner opens with a gun shot and a scream. A tangled web of intrigue follows, twisting and turning with plot devices that would be recognisable to those familiar with the early works of the great Alfred Hitchcock.

Written in 1932, the play was controversial for its references to homosexuality and drug use. While not as shocking today as it would have been when it premiered, the content is still juicy enough to keep us interested in the next twist or revelation.
While a moment's lapse of attention is enough to miss crucial plot details, the fine performances of the seven-strong cast tightly directed by Michael Attenborough keeps things clear and engaging.

An off-hand remark about a cigarette box reveals the tip of an iceberg of deceit and unrequited love amongst the players that rapidly unfolds after a relatively slow start.
The action takes place in Gary Mcann's richly designed one-room art deco set, a pleasing background for the stunning floor length dresses worn by the actresses. A beautiful floor rug depicts a large compass, possibly referencing a moral one.

I regret I didn't make that connection sooner to notice if it bore any relationship to where the actors were placed on the stage. Despite all seven members of the cast being on stage much of the time, the players manage to look convincing and comfortable in the setting throughout.

The more that is revealed about each character as things progress, the less we like about them. Michael Praed steals the show with his least likeable but irresistible portrayal of Charles Stanton. Colin Buchanon's character Robert Caplan is played more Dalziel than Pascoe and is central to much of the action.

Playing Caplan's deeply unsatisfied wife is Finty Williams, daughter of Dame Judi Dench. From the first scene of the play Williams commands the stage with confidence, navigating her role with wit and depth. Also adding to the quality of the evening was the brief but delightful showing of Rosie Armstrong in the role of Miss Mockridge.

The final flashback twist which thereby avoids the Dangerous Corner, doesn't quite stand the test of time. I suspect that particular plot device had a bit more 'pop' with audiences in 1932. The ingenuity of the script and the quality of the cast however keep this production fresh and highly enjoyable. To 08-11-14.

Dominic Antonucci

03-11-14 

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