Monday, 28 May 2012

Rope (theatre)

Following on from Playing Dead, the second play in the Devonshire Park Thriller Season will be Rope. The gruesome story was originally written in 1929 by British playwright Patrick Hamilton and, albeit with altered setting and characters, was made famous by the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film starring James Stewart. It explores the idea that more intelligent people should always be allowed to control the lives of those who are less intelligent and that greater intelligence also results in moral superiority.

The main characters are Wyndham Brandon and his easily-led friend, Charles Granillo, two University students who consider themselves to be intellectually superior to their victim, Ronald Kentley. Assuming that this superiority gives them automatic rights over Ronald's life and its end, Wyndham and Charles murder him. They then hide his body in a trunk which they use as the buffet table during a dinner party attended by Ronald's father, aunt and friends.

Starring Marcus Hutton (Brookside), George Telfer and Ben Roddy.

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tues 12th - Sat 16th June, 19:45.
Weds & Sat matinees, 14.30.

1 comment:

  1. The scene-setting of Rope begins in much the same way as Playing Dead, with era-appropriate music playing as the audience arrives. A carefully chosen soundtrack seems to be the signature of a talkingScarlet production. The curtain actually rises at the beginning revealing an elegant art deco set, striking in black & white, dominated by a red chest and delicately accented with a spray of red flowers. Brandon (Samuel Clemens) and Granillo (Dominic Vulliamy) are talking in near darkness. This happens several times during the play and is interesting as being unable to see them clearly definitely increases the tension.

    We were all surprised by the interval. The lights went up again after only 35 minutes so the 'cliff hanger' moment didn't get the reception that it deserved. The rain getting steadily heavier through the interval was a good device. It prevented all the atmosphere being lost because the play restarts almost exactly where it left off and the audience need to be 'on form' straight away.
    The second act does include a lengthy political conversation between several characters who discuss the morals of murder and war. While this may have been powerful stuff for audiences between the wars, it no longer felt particularly relevant and was rushed onstage so some of the dialogue was lost.

    Cadell (Ben Roddy) was excellent throughout with great comic timing and obviously totally understood his character. Granillo was well-portrayed and believable, especially as he begins to fall apart. However I thought Brandon needed to be stronger and more arrogant although he did come into his own once the play got to the third act. Leila (Lara Lemon) and Kenneth (Duncan MacInnes) were fun characters providing the necessary 'lift'. And I loved Mrs Debenham (Bryonie Pritchard). Her character was probably the most defined and real yet she hardly speaks a word.

    Rope is a great play with important things to say and I'm glad I went to see it. However, it is very much a period piece and I didn't feel the strength of connection with it that I had with the contemporary Playing Dead.