Reviewed by Alexander Wilde
A not-to-be-missed final chance to enjoy the riveting closing show in the acclaimed ‘Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season’ at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.
I was absolutely delighted to be returning to the stalls, even more so that my first local review was part of the annual and much-loved season of dramas at the resplendent Theatre Royal. Sadly, the auditorium was not at full capacity due to COVID restrictions, however the safety measures did not detract from the ambience and the always welcoming staff did a superb job of ensuring the necessary procedures were adhered to. It was evident they were glad to be re-open and committed to making sure the appeal and charm of a night out at the theatre was retained.
The theatre cleverly advertises very brief plot synopsis for these shows, which gives the audience an additional treat – you are never entirely sure what genre of play you will experience. And, more often than not, there is a blending of styles which breaks the traditional tropes.
This story revolves around a trio of distinct characters residing at the cottage of the grandiose and egocentric actor Sir Merlin Foster. The self-proclaimed ‘national treasure’ and his glamorous, talented, but overlooked sixth-wife, Eden Dundee, split their time between London and their country bolthole. Enjoying the trapping of success and keeping up such appearances, perhaps without the funds to do so, is becoming problematic – at least for Merlin. An instant West End hit and star vehicle is needed to bolster finances and Charles Nicholson has been commissioned. Down-and-out, trashy fiction writer Charlie can’t believe his luck when he is secretly invited to the home of the enviable star and is tasked with scripting a perfect murder with an airtight alibi. A maestro of machination and histrionics, to what end and how far will Merlin blur the lines between art and life?
A returning cast of familiar faces, all accomplished stars of screen and stage, expertly bring their characters to life. Fully fleshed out and highly convincing, each are equally engaging and entertaining in their uniqueness.
Andrew Ryan is clearly in his element hamming-up the wonderfully vain and pompous Merlin, his strutting and ranting is a pleasure to behold! Perfectly balancing and soothing this ego, Sarah Wynne Kordas plays Eden with aplomb. Cognizant or gullible? Instantly warming, she walks this fine line with the audience and is absorbing in her scenes with both co-stars. David Martin completes the troika, darkly disheveled in appearance and demeanour, with a well-played lack of confidence and murmured misgiving. Subtle or sublime, as required, the cast chemistry is exceptional!
A single, simple set is used effectively for the play which runs without intermission. Dressing and minor changes are affected behind the dropped curtain and dimming of the theatre lights, accompanied by whodunit anthems. Although a visit to the bar and opportunity to discuss the plot is always welcomed, I felt this play worked well without an interval. Credit to the energetic cast, writers, director and production staff who kept us enthralled throughout.
With more twists and turns than a country road, this play makes for a gripping ride. A performance not to be missed!
On Stage until Saturday 17th July 2021.
Tickets start at £25 and are available online https://trch.co.uk/whats-on/the-final-twist-21-2/ or by calling the Box Office on 0115 989 5555.