A house full of suspects in latest play by Irving Stage Company

Review: The Unexpected Guest, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, Tuesday, June 6, until Saturday, June 10.

A house full of suspects and a neighbour with eyes on the victim’s wife plus an uninvited man who is lost in the fog.

It all adds up to intrigue and mystery in the latest production from the Irving Stage Company.

Set in a country house in Wales this thriller from Agatha Christie opens when a stranger, lost in the fog, seeks refuge in a nearby house only to find a man shot dead and his wife standing over him with a smoking gun.

But the woman’s dazed confession is anything but convincing and the unexpected guest decides to help.

Remarkably, the police clues point to a man who died two years previously but as the ghosts of a past wrong begin to emerge, a tangled web of lies reveals family secrets and chilling motives.

The plot and intrigue is compelling and acted with great aplomb primarily by Angela Smith as the dead man’s wife Laura Warwick, Nic Metcalf as the unexpected guest Michael Starkwedder, Christian Jenner as the housekeeper Miss Bennett and the man hoping to solve the crime Stuart McLellan as Inspector Thomas.

The support roles come from Hugh Weller-Poley, who plays the role of Jan Warwick, the mind-muddled and deranged brother of the deceased; Joyce Amtower as the dead man’s mother Mrs Warwick; John Hills as the inspector’s sidekick Sergeant Cadwallader; Adam Thurkettle as the dead man’s nurse; Nick Bennett as the prospective Liberal Democrat candidate and lover of Mrs Warwick Major Julian Farrar; and Darian Vomund as the crippled Richard Warwick, the victim of the crime.

Given that it was opening night there were a few stumbles, especially in the dialogue, with a few over-zealous prompts coming from backstage … one which resulted in a comical moment.

However, it did not detract from a wholehearted performance by the cast.

And just when the murder seems solved Miss Christie pulls her almighty knock out punch.

For where the real murderer turns out to be the greatest mystery of all.


Russell Cook

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