Reviewed by Nigel Chester
As ever, a warm welcome awaited our arrival at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal, front of house staff were attentive and helpful.
Dangerous Obsession was the final play in in The Theatre Royal Nottingham’s four-part murder mystery series that has taken place this summer. There was a good discount if you booked all four. We didn’t, but truly hope to next year, apparently to be staged in July. We have seen two of the four but chatting to other patrons they definitely felt that the plays sat together and everyone seemed to have their own favourite.
Dangerous Obsession, a psycho-thriller by writer, N J Crisp and widely accepted to be his finest, was intense. Consisting of a cast of three, Mark and Sally Driscoll (Mark Huckett and Angie Smith) and John Barrett (Michael Sherwin) as the program states the action is continuous and takes place in the conservatory of the Driscolls’ home in the home counties. Set in the 1980’s it’s a time I remember so well, but in surroundings that were beyond me then, and now, a fabulous property, swimming pool and all the trimmings.
A man obsessed, appears at the home of the wealthy Driscoll’s, intent on apportioning blame for his wife’s accident on someone. Drunkenness, disbelief and denial drive the accuser to desperate measures, having moved beyond the “give him a drink and get rid of him” stage. As an audience we sat mesmerized and trying to work out what this unassuming but persistent chap could possibly want. We took all of today’s understanding of PTSD and mental health issues and tried in vain to graft them on to the 1980’s.
The play continued, the dialogue intense and important. A missing key, a voyeur beyond the beautiful manicured garden. Every word was delivered with the accuracy of a marksman and this was a production of words, not big theatrics, it was the bread and butter of theatre and it was fantastic. We sat almost velcroed to our seats. The audience was quiet, in a way rarely experienced. The atmosphere in the auditorium was tense. And as we broke for the interval there was a collective sigh of relief and the chatter was all about where this was going, what was in the briefcase, more than the first reveal. I heard everything from a decapitated head to repossession papers muted. We returned to the exact moment we left. Desperate for answers. I am pleased to say we got them. The play twisted and turned and the conclusion was satisfying.
On the whole it was great. The general production, the sound and lighting added to the atmosphere and I would say the direction by Karen Henson was superb. I have one criticism that I think I felt but I wouldn’t have thought to voice but I hear someone else say it and it snapped in my head. Yes. There was talk of families, of future, of children. The sort of chatter of thirty something’s. The actors however appeared to be some fifteen to twenty years older than that. Never mind how fabulous the acting is, a generation is a lot to overlook.
The Theatre Royal should be proud of this run, it was tight, cohesive and enjoyable, next spring we will be looking for a full set of tickets.
Dangerous Obsession is going on a national tour. I am sure it will do very well, it deserves to, it was, simply put, good.
Tickets cost from £12 to £26 (booking fees may apply).
Dangerous Obsession is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 20-24 August 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND