A double helping of suspense, intrigue and murder
Identical twins have always held a fascination for me; how much of one twin went to make up the other, how identical are they, what of the oft-spoken special bond they are supposed to have? Simon Williams taps into all of that and creates a brilliant murder mystery play which feels like multiple games of Cluedo being played at the same time on the same board.
Max and Ash Hennessy are the aforementioned twins, but these are not loving siblings who enjoy sharing their identical-ness. There is a deep seated loathing in both of them, no doubt borne initially from years of competitive rivalry but honed to total despising by a terrible ‘accident’ which left Ash in a wheelchair. This accident, whilst they were both rock climbing, was to many, an attempt by Max to rid himself of his perpetual shadow and as such he is now the subject of a court order forbidding him from making any contact with his unfortunate brother. Yet both brothers know that one of them is about to die, just which one and how is still open to debate.
Back story set, we are transported to the family home in remote Cornwall on a dire and stormy night, the eve of the twins’ birthday. Max has ignored the courts and made his way home in time to ‘welcome’ his brother who has just been released from hospital and into the care of his Aunt Lalla and his home nurse, Jess.
Max, it appears, has much more on his mind than simply sharing cake and candles and so starts a story of thrust and counterthrust which plays on the twins’ childhood games of “can you guess which one is which”. The plot is deliciously twisted, the use of only one actor to play both twins made totally believable by some inspired direction and the set, cleverly adorned by the Cluedo murder weapons, makes for a very claustrophobic stormy south coast retreat. The cast, of which there are only 4, have great fun with their roles; Judy Buxton as Aunt Lalla delights in blending Shakespeare quotes with a rather impatient use of ‘real language’, Kim Tiddy as Nurse Jess manages to stay coldly indifferent to both Ash and Max for as long as possible before dropping the façade and showing her true self. Brian Capron as Detective Fergus avoids playing the bumbling Columbo styled mac wearing cop and stuck resolutely to the country DI . Tom Butcher as the twins was superb; undoubtedly he is assisted by the props and costume dept to ensure that he can remember who he is and when, but he keeps the two brothers identifiably different while still maintaining their monozygotic similarities. The twists and turns of the story give great scope for exploring the inner drivers of both brothers and Butcher doesn’t waste a moment.
For a Monday night, it was a little disappointing to see the stalls only half full, such a shame for a brilliantly funny & entertaining play which would knock spots off any TV drivel being served up at the moment.