Mortimer Dramatic Society - The Small Hours
21st to 22nd October and 28th to 29th October 2016
Review from Newbury Theatre.
You can rely on Francis Durbridge for a good thriller, and The Small Hours is no exception. Carl is on a flight from Sydney to London, which gets hijacked. He’s slightly injured but manages to save Ronnie who was sitting next to him. The rest of the play takes place in Carl’s office/living-room at the hotel he runs near Chichester. It gets increasingly complicated as George, a detective who knows more than he’s letting on, questions Carl about a seemingly irrelevant koala toy, which may or may not have been in his hand luggage, destroyed during the hijacking. The hotel chef Bernard has been playing away and is planning to leave; Carl’s wife Vanessa gets shot at, apparently in an attempt to kill Carl; Carl’s cousin Oliver isn’t as innocent as he seems, and a masked stranger dies while trying to knife Carl.
A fairly typical week for most of us, in fact.
The play is divided into ten scenes, and each one ends with a twist that prompts a surprised “oooh” from the audience. Vintage Durbridge.
Darren Reed is excellent as Carl, the main character. A confident performance as he deals with the increasing complex and often inexplicable things that happen to him. Nick Pounder is assertive and assured (albeit slightly creepy) as George and James Burton Stewart is very good as the urbane but slippery Oliver. Sam Foad is believably devious as Bernard, and Phil Collins is an anxious and frantic (perhaps a bit too frantic) Ronnie.
There were strong performances from Cathy Ramsell as Carl’s wife Vanessa and Kim Antell as the efficient office manager Ruth. I particularly liked Sara Roper’s realistic portrayal of Millie, Bernard’s hard-done-by wife.
John Bull’s modern set was ideal for the play and director Tom Shorrock used it to good effect.
This fast moving play demands a pace to match, and Mortimer Dramatic got it just right in this well acted and very enjoyable production.