Suddenly at Home

 Mark Spalding who plays the lead role of Glen Howard in Francis Durbridge’s Suddenly at Home.           Photo by Hattie Miles

Suddenly at Home: Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth.

We are now three plays into the wonderful London Repertory Players summer season at the Shelley Theatre and the talented cast are making the very most of another classic rep’ company favourite.

Francis Durbridge’s Suddenly At Home is not a conventional whodunnit. Philandering businessman Glen Howard (Mark Spalding) is plotting to rid himself of his wealthy wife Maggie (Claire Fisher) from the opening Act. But just when he thinks he’s committed the perfect murder his cunning plan threatens to unravel.

Durbridge’s marvellously complex thriller offers a seemingly endless array of twists and turns and once again this excellent company shows the strength of good acting, sharp direction and intelligent ensemble work.

The play was first staged in 1971 but this production updates the action to the 1980s, a point underscored by the use of a Madonna soundtrack - a nice touch in the week of her 60th birthday.

The audience is kept on the edge of its collective seat as a nerve-racking chapter of events finds the hapless Glen trying to cover his tracks. He has limited success.  Maggie’s sister Helen (Kirsty Cox) gradually realises that things are not quite as they appear. Meanwhile family friend Sheila (Victoria Porter) is trying to cope with growing anxieties. Not a good idea when you’re nursing a heroin habit.

The finger of blame is pointing at Maggie’s former lover - smooth, successful novelist Sam Blaine (Al Wadlan). However nothing quite adds up and even the au pair (Hepzibah Roe) seems to have something to hide. Though not her brilliantly over-the-top French accent which really ought to have a billing of its own.

Add to that two police officers with very different agendas - Appleton (Neil James) and Remick (Musa Trevathan) - and you have a recipe for a murder story that’s heavy on both intrigue and entertainment.

Suddenly at Home is another triumph for director Vernon Thompson and the London Repertory Players. It runs until Tuesday 21st August and will be followed on Thursday 23rd August by the final production of the 2018 rep’ season, Dead Guilty by Richard Harris.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022