Red herrings abound in Durbridge mystery

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This was the second play in the popular four-week Murder in the Park season produced by talking Scarlet in association with Eastbourne Theatres.

Few can match author Francis Durbridge’s skill when it comes to writing murder mysteries and his legendary sleuth, Paul Temple, in a long-running series of radio and television plays, will be fondly remembered by a generation.

Those of a certain vintage may also recall the tingle of excitement at hearing the series’ signature tune ‘Coronation Scot’!

To director Philip Stewart (he also plays Detective Inspector Appleton), and designer Geoff Gilder’s credit, this production is dripping with a real sense of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Durbridge era.

Constantly chiming door-bells and tinkling telephones add to the tension, mini-skirts and jump-suits, brown blazers and cravats, Billy J Kramer on the record player and G-plan furniture provide this production with its strength.

Any attempt to bring the performance, and the story, which is not so much a whodunit but a will-he-get-caught cliffhanger with the murder committed onstage, up to date would have been a mistake.

The action takes place in the living-room of the Howard’s flat, where philandering husband Glenn (Ben Roddy) plots to kill his wealthy, well-heeled wife, Maggie (Susan Thorpe), whose plans to live in Bermuda would interfere with the affair he is having with actress Sheila (Jo Castleton), and his dalliance with live-in au-pair, Ruth (Lara Lemon).

However, having committed the murder, his convoluted scheme to shift the blame onto Maggie’s former lover Sam (Marcus Hutton) starts to unravel - not least with the appearance of the surprisingly knowledgeable Superintendent Remick (John Hester).

Among the devious goings-on of these respectable middle-class forty-somethings, epitomized by Maggie’s socialite sister Helen (Claire Vousden), there are the inevitable red herrings and blind alleys.

Devotees of the genre if not biting their nails in excitement can wallow contentedly in nostalgia

Suddenly at Home continues tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) at the Devonshire Park Theatre.

The third play in the Murder in the Park series is Deathtrap which runs from Tuesday, June 18 to Saturday, June 22.

The finale will be Dead Certain which runs from Tuesday, June 25 to Saturday, June29.

For full details on the Devonshire Park plays and this week’s full entertainments listings see pages 84 and 85.