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BWW Review: LOVE FROM A STRANGER, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

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BWW Review: LOVE FROM A STRANGER, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

BWW Review: LOVE FROM A STRANGER, Theatre Royal, Glasgow In a move that will thrill and chill Agatha Christie fans across the country, Love from a Stranger, an adaptation of Christie's 1936 short story, Philomel Cottage, is the most recent to tour in a series of staged revivals of some of the Queen of Mystery's best work.

Whilst the 1930s may be almost a century behind us, the suspense that this aged text brings rivals that of any psychological thriller on the silver screen these days.

A whirlwind romance with a stranger sweeps Cecily Harrington off her feet, leaving the life she tired of behind for pastures new. As she settles into a remote country cottage, she comes to realise that things aren't exactly as they appear.

Strong performances are given by the ensemble, with particularly notable contributions from protagonists Cecily Harrington, played by Helen Bradbury and Bruce Lovell, played by Sam Frenchum.

The pair sizzle in intimate scenes but are equally as comfortable when in blind panic. They hold the piece together and have a clear handle on their own character.

Molly Logan provides comic relief in the form of Ethel, a home help to the protagonists and Crispin Redman's Dr Gribble is particularly enjoyable in his more frantic moments.

Contrary to works like The Mousetrap, there is no real suspense or impending danger from Act I. Therefore, it's not surprising to see so many swagger into their seats for Act II oblivious to what is about to unfold.

Eerily chilling lighting delivers the initial punch of terror as the story comes to a climax and subtle underscoring is incredibly effective in pushing the audience right to the edge of their seats.

Each breath shortens as the on-stage space gets tighter, as every door is locked and window closed.

Without fancy pyrotechnics or overwhelming sounds, the understated trickery employed in this tour delivers a much more intense fear to the audience than cheap 'boo' scares.

There is, indeed, a strange delight as little niggles that begin in Act 1 turn out to have been planted in plain sight of the unsuspecting audience, revealing their true purpose only as the drama amplifies.

Love from a Stranger is a fine example of how the genre can be done right without flash and firmly solidifies Christie's title as the Queen of Mystery.

Love from a Stranger at Theatre Royal, Glasgow until 30 June then touring

Fraser MacDonald


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