Wick Theatre Company’s version of Therese Raquin is a slow-burner but boy does it get exciting towards the end.
Rose Hall-Smith and Alex Bond play off each other well as the doomed lovers Therese and Laurent.
And Alex really shows the different sides of the artist’s character as he battles guilt and paranoia.
Part ghost story, part psychological thriller, this twisted tale of consequences is played out like a 19th century melodrama, backed up with some dramatic violin music during the scene changes.
It is mostly quite softly spoken and in a way, it feels like looking through a window at other people’s lives rather than watching a performance.
Perhaps that is because of the set, which is a fantastic French salon above a shop, with bedroom and hallway off. It is so good, you at first forget it is a stage and see it only as a room.
There are some clever tricks – watch out for the ‘ghost’, which I must admit I missed at first (blame the eyesight).
Alongside all the drama and tragedy, there is comedy, too, with David Peaty as Grivet and Derek Fraser as Michaud a great double act.
David never fails to deliver and if at first you wonder what all the fuss is about his umbrella, don’t worry, you will find out in the second half why attention has to be drawn to it!
I may not have seen the ‘ghost’ but I definitely saw David’s eyebrows, raised at just the perfect moment.
Susanne Crosby as Madame Raquin has a tough job, starting off strident and ending up, well, the very opposite. She did, unfortunately, lose her place a little on Wednesday but let’s put this down to opening night nerves and acknowledge it is a pretty weighty text.
Matthew Arnold as Camille also had a little trouble with his lines but they both recovered well.
It did not spoil the overall effect of the drama and in the end it was Rose and Alex doing battle in the final scene that really made the evening.
A final note for the audience, please, for goodness sake, turn off your phone. There were at least three telephone calls during the first half, which is totally unacceptable, and with the addition of noise coming from the café, it did make it rather difficult to concentrate. It’s a shame for all that hard work to be spoiled.
As a side note, the programme provides us with a reminder of the Russian princess buried in Shoreham at St Nicolas Church. Princess Bariatinsky was also an actress under her own name, Lydia Yavorska, and appeared in Therese Raquin in 1912.
See Therese Raquin at the Barn Theatre in Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street, Southwick. Performances are from tonight to Saturday at 7.45pm daily. Ticekts £11 from the box office on 01273 597094 or online at www.wicktheatre.co.uk