The Small Hours

By Jeremy Miles

The Small Hours: The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne

Following their triumphant return to Dorset last week, the London Repertory Players continue their summer season at the Tivoli with this wonderful late work from that doyen of 20th-century thriller writers Francis Durbridge.

The Small Hours is clever, complex and hugely entertaining and under director Vernon Thompson, the London Rep Players do it proud. It is a skilfully plotted tale that finds hapless Sussex hotelier Carl Houston (Al Wadlan) plunged into a nightmare of terror and intrigue when his plane is hijacked on the way home from an innocent family trip to Australia.

Somehow he has become unwittingly involved in an international crime. The police think he is lying and his life is under threat. The trouble is he hasn’t a clue about how or why this has happened. This is classic fare for summer rep and with fine acting from the company led by Wadlan as the baffled, frightened and increasingly paranoid Carl, the multi-layered plot positively romps along.

Victoria Porter plays Carl’s worried and suspicious wife Vanessa while Kirsty Cox is the hotel PA. There are vital performances too from Neil James as the Scotland Yard detective trying to crack the case and Richard Mullins as Carl’s bullish mentor, business entrepreneur Oliver Radford.

There’s a scheming chef (Mitch Capaldi) and his put-upon other half (Hepzibah Roe) and, crucially, the strange arrival of Ronnie Sheldon (Joseph Prestwich), a fellow passenger on the ill-fated flight. It’s wonderful stuff and of course being set in the early 1990s, it offers a nostalgic look back to a time that many of us remember all too well. 

It was an era when telephones were firmly attached to a wire, we made recordings on cassette tapes, many people, even in business, barely tolerated computers and you could buy a small restaurant in Bath for under £300,000. Ah, happy days! You just have to ignore the knives, the pistols and the bodies on the carpet. Wonderful stuff. Long live ‘rep

*The Small Hours runs at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne until Saturday 6th August. The London Repertory Players will be back at the theatre next week from Wednesday 10th August to Saturday  13th August with Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels. Tickets 01202 885566 or online at Further info at

© Jeremy Miles 2022