As the second play in The Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season unfolds the audience find themselves on the edge of their seats for Francis Durbridge’s A Touch Of Danger. Director Karen Henson sets the play in the 1980s – the same period it was written. It is good to recognise that whilst the costumes are of the 1980s period the designer has shown restraint and hasn’t gone big shoulder crazy. That would’ve made a bit of a visual farce out of a more than decent thriller.
Apart from a few odd moments with a few characters dialling a period telephone incorrectly things generally go rather swimmingly.
This is a classic Durbridge tale of murderous happenings where nobody quite knows who is who and who to trust. This is all part of the drama style which was popular in its heyday and still grips us today especially with the use of the front curtain marking the scenes and apposite music styles building up the deadly atmospheres.
If the name Francis Durbridge seems familiar this popular writer was prolific in his day with his detective hero (not in this play) Paul Temple. This detective was very popular radio fare then the stories were developed for television and for films. Paul Temple was also very popular on the continent especially in The Netherlands, Germany and Italy. In The Netherlands Paul Temple was called Paul Vlaanderen. There is a pub quiz potential question and answer if there ever was one. Durbridge was active as a radio and television scriptwriter, playwright and author from 1993-1998.
A Touch of Danger – one of Durbridge’s later eight scene plays written in 1987 has all the hallmarks of a good thriller and the acting in this production is more than credible to give it pace, a little touch of humour and a decided touch of danger especially as the play reaches its final conclusions. The set is designed with style by Geoff Gilder, the sound design by David Gilbrook is cracking and Michael Donoghue’s lighting creates good visual atmospherics.
The cast of eight all appear to be enjoying telling the story unfolding and restraining themselves from histrionics during scenes of heightened emotions. It could be so easy to over act this play but the cast and director treat it with due respect.
This reviewer is particularly enjoying the acting of the characters Liz Ferber (Susan Earnshaw), Harriet Telligan (Jaqueline Gilbride), Max Telligan (John Goodrum) and Graham Digby (Jeremy Lloyd Thomas). If you like your dramas to offer up some genuine surprises and a good old fashioned quality production overall then you can’t go wrong with this TABS and Theatre Royal Nottingham production of A Touch Of Danger.
Reviewer: Phil Lowe