THE QUEEN’S Theatre’s revival of 1920s thriller, Rope, masterfully crafts atmosphere and plot, but sacrifices character development in doing so.
The show, directed by Douglas Rintoul, is an adaptation of Patrick Hamlton’s 1929 play – based on the infamous real-life Leopold and Loeb murder case – and was adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948.
It begins with the two central characters declaring they have committed the ’perfect murder’, as an expression of their intellectual superiority, with the body hidden in a chest which takes centre stage.
The pair are awaiting guests, amongst them the mother of the man they have murdered, to audaciously flaunt their ’passionless’ and ’bloodless’ killing as a symbol of their self-proclaimed brilliance.
This crux of this story is not ’whodunnit’, but whether the pair can get away with their paradoxically both clandestine and yet ostentatious killing.
The production – in partnership with New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich – delivers an authentic atmosphere, constructing tightly coiled suspense.
Plot and atmosphere certainly take centre stage, and both are built upon the ominous looming presence of the chest containing the remains of the murdered student.
The cast do well to utilise its presence- developing it as a weight, always at the forefront of the audiences mind.
James Sutton, who plays Charles Granillo, and George Kemp; who plays Wyndham Brandon, lead the performance well as the Oxford murderers.
However the show is stolen by the brilliance of Sam Jenkins-Shaw, playing the sharp and observant Rupert Cadell.
It must be said Rupert Cadell is by far the best-written character, and some of the the supporting characters, while they have their moments, seem almost superfluous at times.
The relationship between Granillo and Brandon also went unfulfilled, and more could have been done to explore their lopsided power-dynamic.
However the immense tension built up through the performance and the meticulously crafted atmosphere exonerate the short-falls in character development, and the overall experience is utterly thrilling.