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Boundary Players - House Guest

6th to 10th February 2001.

Imagine how you would feel. Your only child has been kidnapped but no ransom demanded. All the kidnapper wants is to stay in your home for 48 hours. If you go along with this request your child will be returned unharmed. That is the dilemma faced by Robert and Stella Drury when their nine year old son, Mike, is abducted in Francis Durbridge's thriller. Of course there is more to this than meets the eye. The Drurys find they do not know who they can trust and as the story unfold we discover the real reason behind the kidnapping. Several people meet untimely deaths before this twisty story reaches its thrilling conclusion.

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'... and a number 35 with egg fried rice' Corpse number 1 Robert and Stella prepare for another game of scissors, paper, stone 'If you overlook the speeding offence, I could give a sizeable donation to the policemen's benevolent society'

This is from the Newbury Weekly News.

More twists than a corkscrew

House Guest by Francis Durbridge: Boundary Players, at the William Penney Theatre, Aldermaston from 6th to 10th February

Three people murdered on stage is what you might expect from Shakespeare but not from more modern playwrights. However, that’s what we got in this Francis Durbridge thriller that had more twists than a corkscrew.

Film star Robert Drury and his wife Stella have to cope with the kidnapping of their son and the demands of the kidnapper Crozier and his accomplice Vivien. Two policemen arrive: Inspector Burford (John Maycock) and Sergeant Clayton (Colin Webb), but when they murder Crozier with a large dagger and strangle Vivien, we start to realise that there may be more to this than meets the eye. To complicate things still further, Drury’s double appears, and gets shot.

It may sound a bit far-fetched, but it was a good story and the cast kept the pace going well. Clive Lewington gave an authoritative performance as Drury and was also particularly good as his double (with an American accent). John Maycock and Colin Webb built up the sense of menace – they worked well together and both gave very strong performances as the two bad guys, showing different aspects of nastiness. I wouldn’t want to meet Webb in a dark alley. Maryann Mendum, as Drury’s wife, had to spend a lot of time in tears, but didn’t seem anguished enough at the possibility of her son being killed. George Menarry, playing Crozier, seemed a bit nervous but was convincingly menacing, and Denise Ashton as Vivien made a good transition from friendly journalist to ruthless crook. Jean Mead played the secretary and Alice Grundy was suitably scatty as Drury’s cousin.

For the play to work, the pace has to be very fast, and the tension has to be built up and maintained: Boundary Players succeeded well in both respects. Some of Durbridge’s dialogue seemed rather stilted, and maybe director Pat Archer could have done more to smooth over this. The set was simple but effective. It made good use of the large stage, and looked right for a film star’s house (apart from the double doors, which had a mind of their own).