"Decent performance of flawed classic.."
by Dominic di Nezza for remotegoat on 21/05/08

I've always been a fan of J.B. Priestley. His plays are like Agatha Christie except with real people and the sort of temporal weirdness you sometimes get from Tom Stoppard, best exemplified in his best-known play "An Inspector Calls".

In "Dangerous Corner", Priestley's first work for the stage, we can see a similar theme - the superficially comfy upper-middle-class domicile with a guilty secret lurking at it's heart, to which everyone is connected, no matter how innocently. Showdon'ttell are clearly aiming to capture the atmosphere of 1930s high (-ish) society and the rottenness at its' core

Unfortunately one of the first things we glean is how Priestley's concept was in need of refining. After setting up a circle of comfortably-off friends still affected by the apparent suicide of one of their number, a good deal of time is spent outlining the whys and wherefores of a sum of money which vanished from the company accounts. The actors, who do a decent job of introducing us to the ensemble (mysterious spinster, flighty young wife, respectable businessman, etc), largely struggle to enliven these extremely plot-heavy passages.

This is a shame, because, when the text allows them to explore the psychologies of the characters, we get some impressive performances. Of particular note are Brigid Lohrey, who is intriguing and gripping as the tortured Olwen Peel, and Ben de Halpert, who excels in the second act as the hapless brother of the deceased. The others are solid rather than spectacular, Daniel Brennan's direction seemingly not allowing enough genuine fun to be had with Priestley's text and making the evening rather more straight than seems to be necessary.

Priestley has written stronger plays than this and we are left thinking that Showdon'ttell are capable of better. Nevertheless, a brisk and punchy second act keeps us on the right side of an entertaining evening.

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