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  • Writer's pictureandybram69

The Cat and The Canary

Suspense and intrigue returned to Darlington Hippodrome last night and it was a solid 3 star show.

Continuing to build on the long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, Bill Kenwright’s Classic Thriller Theatre Company (Rehearsal For Murder, Judgement in Stone and The Lady Vanishes), returns with their latest chilling whodunit, the creepy comedy thriller The Cat and the Canary, written by John Willard and Directed by Roy Marsden.

Set in an old mansion, it is the tale of estranged family members brought together 20 years after the patriarch’s death to hear the reading of his will, and more importantly to them, find out who will inherit the vast fortune he left behind.

Of course, when there’s money involved initial bon amie turns to greed and we watch as plots are written, schemes concocted and true feelings uncovered.There’s no shortage of shocks, as well as some laugh out loud moments, all played in a wonderful set which becomes more claustrophobic as the night continues.

Heading up the cast is silver screen and Bond-girl legend Britt Ekland, playing Mrs Pleasant, the housekeeper. Mrs Pleasant has lived alone in the house since the former owners demise and is now as part of the fabric of the building as the bookcases and creaking stairs. Britt is a perfect balance of seldom being centre stage yet ominously ever present and oozes Hollywood style.

Starring alongside Ms Ekland is singer-songwriter, actor and former member of 00’s boy band Blue, Antony Costa who has wonderful comedic timing and plays the apparent hapless vet, Paul, perfectly.

Tracy Shaw, best known for her long-running role as Maxine Peacock in Coronation Street is the debonair author Annabelle and the story’s heroine.Her performance commands attention, shining out through the auditorium with star appeal and at times carrying the plot on her own.

They are joined by West End leading lady Marti Webb (Evita and Tell Me on A Sunday) as Aunt Susan; Gary Webster, (Family Affairs and Ray Daley opposite George Cole in ITV’s Minder) as Harry; Classic Thriller Theatre Company veteran Ben Nealon (Soldier Soldier) as actor Charlie, and Eric Carte (Bouquet of Barbed Wire) as Crosby, the Lawyer and family solicitor.

As a horror/drama/comedy/thriller this is a great opening to the Hippodrome’s Autumn season, very entertaining and a lovely return to live theatre.

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