Murder mysteries are reliable. We all know what is in store: someone is murdered, the audience tries to guess the criminal, they eventually find out ‘whodunnit’ and then we leave – untroubled.
But after watching The Case of the Frightened Lady at the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, I was unphased, unenthused and simply uninterested.
The first act began at a fancy dress party, with so many characters fleeting across the stage it was hard to keep up with them and their appearances. The curtains lifted on the hallway of the Lebanon house which was the same backdrop throughout, despite referencing to a secret store room that apparently held all the answers.
The characters executed their lines and roles, however the script was underwhelming. Gilder (Simon Desborough) and Brook (Angus Brown) were the housekeepers who kept us guessing with their eerie presence.
The first half was fairly dull, but the second was a saving grace – all the punch was packed into the last act. I was gripped when the plot unravelled.
But as we learnt of the perpetrator, the questioning in my head began. The curtain fell abruptly and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in the lack of explanation.
The genre isn’t dead – Agatha Christie’s murder mystery The Mousetrap is the longest running West End show. So what went wrong here?
The actors performed but the script failed to deliver.
Until November 3.