The Lady Vanishes

It’s no secret that I love, love, love theatre… and my penchant for mysteries is equally well known. So, ‘why?’ you may ask, was my excitement level ramped up from it’s usual level of fervour to unbridled frenzy for Bill Kenwright’s new production of the classic spy thriller ‘The Lady Vanishes’? Simple answer…

Maxwell Caulfield. He might not be as young and blond as he was in the ’80s, and it’s more years than I care to remember that I was 11… but a crush is still a crush! He doesn’t utter his first words until the play is some distance in, but just his presence on stage – lurking in the shadows on an Austrian railway platform – was enough to elevate my heart rate from it’s usual cadaverous 51 to something nearer normal. He didn’t disappoint… and neither did the play.

Having never read the Ethel Lina White novel, ‘The Wheel Spins’, from which the play is adapted, my familiarity with the story comes via the B&W 1938 Hitchcock movie version starring Margaret Lockwood. Big boots to fill! But this adaptation: the staging, casting and acting were superb. Lorna Fitzgerald was wonderful as Iris opposite Matt Barber as Max (apparently I should know who these two are as they’re in things on telly… I clearly don’t watch enough TV as I’ve been missing out on great actors!). The undoubted star of the show was, of course, Mrs. MC – Juliet Mills, playing the mysterious Miss Froy – whose arrival on stage sent her whispered name echoing around the stalls. She’s tiny but her presence is commanding, and her performance was suitably endearing. There was a lot of comedy – the cricket-obsessed duo, Charters and Caldicott were fabulous (I seem to see Ben Nealon in a lot of productions and he’s fab in everything). The shoot-out at the end was a noisy, frenetic crescendo, topped only by the ultimate happy ending to send home the packed house at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, a delighted bunch. I’m such a softy…I was in tears!

Oh, and did I mention Maxwell Caulfield…? I know he’s done a lot more in his career than just being the pretty one on Dynasty/The Colby’s, but until now, in my head he would always have been Miles Colby (seen here kicking the sh!t out of his half-brother brother, Jeff)…

now he’s part Miles and part Dr. Hartz… and me? I feel like I’m 11 again …but even more of a fan than before!

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