REVIEW: Rope at The Barn Theatre, Southwick

The cast of Rope, Wick Theatre Company's entry in the Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards
The cast of Rope, Wick Theatre Company's entry in the Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards

WICK Theatre Company’s drama awards entry is dark – and in more ways than one.

The Patrick Hamilton play, Rope, was judged by actress Kate Dyson yesterday for this year’s Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards.

It is a rather gruesome affair, with a calculated murder carried out simply for the sake of doing so, though there are some nice comedic moments.

It did not help that a decent percentage of the play took place actually in the dark.

As dictated by the script, there are no lights on, but with light from only the fire and the window, it made it quite difficult to take in the early dialogue which sets the background to the story.

Kate picked up on this, too, in her adjudication and said it was a brave decision to go against the detailed directions given with the script.

She pointed out that it would have worked much better if the lighting had been arranged to create silhouettes so the audience can follow what is happening.

On another lighting note, it rankled with me that the lead character had to literally open the door and lean out of the room to turn on the light. It just didn’t seem right.

Again, Kate mentioned this and was told by director Guy Steddon, who also played the lead role of Wyndham Brandon, that it was because they were canvas flats.

She said a switch could have been painted on, adding: “It does need to be in the room.”

But these are details and they take away from the very fine performances from the cast of eight.

Guy was calm and calculated, menacing at times. Simon Robinson, playing fellow murderer Charles Granillo, did well playing in his shadow as the more nervous of the pair.

Sarah Frost as Leila and Matthew Arnold as Kenneth made a great pairing and provided some lovely funny moments.

Kate complimented Sarah on her accent and said Matthew had just the right level of foppishness.

Derek Fraser was excellent as Sir Johnstone Kentley and gave a very moving, believable performance in the scene where he learns his son is missing.

Poor Dan Dryer, playing the wounded Rupert Cadell, was astonished to hear from Kate that he was holding his walking stick in the wrong hand, especially as he had a ‘limp coach’.

She failed to mention his stunning performance as Rupert Cadell, all moody and petulant. The concluding scene was just superb.

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