Audiences at the latest Apollo Players’ production are in for a visual treat: the set perfectly depicts a late Victorian upper class drawing room with all the accoutrements, and the costumes are not only suited to the period, down to the last detail, but tell us something about each character too.
Lord Arthur Savile, portrayed engagingly by Chris Hicks, is not blessed with brains, but is devoted to his lovely fiancée Sybil Merton, played by Rose Kelsey with great comic timing. When her disapproving mother, a wonderfully dour Ginnie Orrey, hires a chiromancer – no, I didn’t know what it was either, but it turns out he is a kind of palm-reading fortune teller – to ensure Arthur is a suitable husband, the latter’s world is turned upside down by the private information that he is doomed to commit a murder.
Heroically – at least in his own eyes – determining to get the evil deed out of the way before his wedding the following Thursday, Arthur consults his loyal butler Baines, played with a traditional stiff upper lip by Martin Ward, and together they plot to kill one of Arthur’s own long list of relatives. The question is who? And how?
Should it be elderly Aunt Clem, with her habit of borrowing money from her nephew to fund her gambling, and her hypochondria, or the haughty and at times disapproving Lady Windermere? These ladies, played to perfection by consummate actresses Carole Crow and Kathryn Ward respectively, are at times on the verge of stealing the show with their sweeping entrances and amusing asides.
Then there is the Dean of Paddington, Arthur’s uncle, played with suitable eccentricity by Mark Duffus.
The plot is further complicated by the well-meaning help offered by Herr Winkelkopf, portrayed by Simon Cardew with aplomb. And a bomb.
The cast is completed by Helen Reading’s submissive maid, Nellie, and John Sole’s solemn chiromancer himself, Mr Podgers, who turns out to be not all he seems…
This black comedy, based on an Oscar Wilde short story, with all of Wilde’s characteristic wit, will keep you guessing and laughing right to the end.
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime is staged at The Apollo Theatre every evening until Saturday 7th July. Tickets available via the Apollo website or from the Box Office.