I'm never disappointed by the plays staged at Sutton Arts Theatre. The audiences are guaranteed a high standard of both performance and direction and this production was no exception to the rule. The play was written by the renowned and respected stage and TV dramatist, N J Crisp, 'Dangerous Obsession' being one of Crisp's most famous and gripping psychological thrillers. The play premiered in 1987 and a film version (As Darkness Falls) was released in 1999.
The tale, set in the 80's in the conservatory of an opulent English home, involves three characters - a married couple, Mark and Sally Driscoll, and an acquaintance, John Barrett - and as the plot twists and turns it keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
The attractive Sally Driscoll (Tamsin Hunt) has been lounging by her pool and, in her swimsuit, is watering the indoor plants as John Barrett (Richard Price) appears unexpectedly at the conservatory door. Sally is understandably unnerved by the stranger who she firstly presumes to be a door-to-door salesman. Bespectacled John, appears harmless, 'boring', and armed with a briefcase, persists that he is an old friend, his wife and he having once shared a dinner table with the Driscoll's at a business conference dinner in Torquay. Sally, vaguely remembering him, agrees for him to stay until husband Mark returns home from work.
Mark Driscoll (Richard Haines) comes in as the loud, swaggeringly successful businessman and is greeted by a relieved wife and a g&t. He tolerates John for a short time but events take an unsettling turn as it becomes clear that John's unexpected visit has a more sinister purpose than just the renewing of old friendships.
Superb performances by these three actors. Tamsin Hunt shifts quickly from Sally the courteous and accommodating hostess, to Sally the flustered, fearful wife and mediator. Richard Haines portays Mark as a loathsome, self-opinionated, shallow creature who later crumbles in his pathetic efforts to preserve his smooth and smarmy appearance. Richard Price as John certainly looked the part in his bland suit and sensible shoes, speaking in overly formal tones which in turn make his actions all the more menacing. He too undergoes a metamorphosis, revealing an unexpected turn of personality and Richard does so with great skill, clearly impressing the audience.
Suitably costumed with an applauded, handsome set design and lighting scheme you will find yourself drawn into the action and suspense of this complex plot. Director, Dexter Whitehead, keeps everything ticking along at the perfect pace, ensuring the shock moments are suitably unsettling. Lovely little theatre and this show, which could rival any professional version, is well worth seeing.
Runs to 4 November. Contains some adult themes.
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