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Review of The Lady Vanishes at the Princess Theatre Torquay

Scarlett Archer & Nicholas Audsley - The Lady Vanishes - UK Tour - Photograph by Paul Coltas
Scarlett Archer & Nicholas Audsley – The Lady Vanishes – UK Tour – Photograph by Paul Coltas

The Lady Vanishes is a classic thriller which follows an English tourist travelling by train to Europe when her travelling ally vanishes without a trace and the rest of the carriage denies ever witnessing her existence. This classic story was originally based on the novel ‘The Wheel Spins’ by Ethel Lina White and was later adapted for film by the notorious Alfred Hitchcock in 1938. Prepare to board this thriller, which packs much anticipation and intensity while delivering plenty of humour along the way.

The versatile set helps to build the world instantly and establish the different locations within the train station and the train itself so seamlessly. This is then reinforced through the actors wholeheartedly committing and embellishing the environment simply and effectively. They do this by constantly moving to convey the train’s motion. Additionally, it is absolutely believable that each carriage displayed is a different setting, despite the fact that the backdrop never changes. This is achieved by scene transitions that are executed to perfection. A good example of this would be the establishment of the dining car. Although the actors set the stage, they are so involved in their roles that you only see them as waiting for staff setting up a restaurant.

Being set in the era of Nazi Germany, the world soon becomes dangerously dark and deceptive. We begin at a railway station platform where a train to England has been delayed due to an avalanche disturbing the track. Here we are introduced to the characters individually and their relationships are first established. We can become the detective in this thrilling plot as we are fed different motives of what is soon to unravel.

The characters are all so rounded and so full of personality. Scarlet Archers’ interpretation of ‘Iris’ has much heart and authenticity. You fully believe in the character’s confusion and desperation to find Miss Froy and she carries the plot so easily. You side with Iris instantly and she appears to be the voice of the audience throughout. Congratulations on bringing tenderness, energy and humour to Iris.

Gwen Taylor, known for her portrayal of Anne Foster on Coronation Street, has so much presence on stage and conveys the element of mystery within the play flawlessly. Her portrayal of ‘Miss Froy’ displays warmth and generosity whilst still instilling a desire to keep her at arm’s length – not sure whether to totally trust her motives or not. Even when Miss Froy isn’t onstage, Taylor has created such a full character that Miss Froy is always present which provokes a haunting atmosphere whenever the character is mentioned.

Andrew Lancel too deserves praise for his portrayal of ‘Dr Hartz’. He brings a sense of impassiveness as he always seems slightly distant from the characters and calculating in his motives. You are constantly going between whether his calculating nature comes from his profession of ‘doctor’, diagnosing situations or whether this is tip-toeing into something much more sinister. Lancel fulfils this role totally, manipulating the audience constantly to work out his intentions, but you’ll have to assess for yourselves who to trust.

The evening packs thrills and adventure as you play detective, investigating the evidence and questioning everything the characters say. This playful cast brings a lot of slapstick comedy amongst the dark tale, giving thrill-seekers all the best qualities of a ‘whodunnit’ production.

4 stars

Review by Dan Chambers

Building on the phenomenal decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, The Classic Thriller Theatre Company presents a quick-witted, devilishly fun filled thriller – based on the Hitchcock classic, ranked one of the Best British Films of all time.

When Socialite Iris’ travelling companion disappears, she’s bewildered to find fellow passengers deny ever having seen her. But with the help of musician Max, she turns detective, and together they resolve to solve this perplexing mystery.

The Lady Vanishes
at Princess Theatre Torquay
from Monday 18th November to Saturday 23rd November 2019.
Book Tickets for The Princess Theatre Torquay

Full tour details at https://www.kenwright.com/

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1 thought on “Review of The Lady Vanishes at the Princess Theatre Torquay”

  1. Had a great evening full of laughs and surprises, brilliant cast and the scenery was amazing! Highly recommended evening out.

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