REVIEW: Suddenly At Home by Francis Durbridge – The Apollo Players

Audiences at the Apollo were treated to a classic Durbridge suspense-filled thriller: not so much a whodunnit, more a ‘willhegetawaywithit’ with added plot twists and surprises along the way. So I will try not to spoil any of those surprises, since the play runs until Saturday 14th September, giving you a chance to see for yourself.

Suffice it to say that Glenn Howard, a womanising charmer married to the conveniently very rich Maggie, has a somewhat devious mind. The plot against Maggie becomes evident very quickly, as we meet her friend Sheila and innocent sister Helen.

Anyone who has been involved in theatre will know that at times there is as much drama unfolding offstage as on, and this has clearly been the case for the Apollo Players who were faced with the rare problem of an actor unavoidably having to withdraw from the show – and the lead role too! Happily, the role of Glenn was filled by Graham Pountney, a familiar name on the Island, and he captures Glenn’s ability to charm everyone into either entering into the plot with him or believing he could never have carried out such a crime. If you did not know the Apollo team you might have thought having a professionally trained actor of over 40 years’ experience onstage would make the rest of the cast look like, well, amateurs – but not a bit of it! The newcomer fits seamlessly into the play and the other actors shine even brighter for it.

Chris Turvey brings out the character of Maggie, sociable and unsuspecting of her husband’s intentions, and Holly Squires as Helen skilfully enables the audience to identify with her as she, like us, gradually realises that things in the Howard household are not quite what they seem, and she struggles to understand and come to terms with what has happened.

Helen Reading portrays the complex character of Sheila perfectly: without giving too much away I can only say that as each aspect of Sheila’s character unfolds, Helen’s acting experience and talent ensures that the audience are captivated by what she might do next….

Equally skilful at showing different sides of a character is Carol Simpson as the au pair Ruth, while another character about whom we may change our mind during the play is Sam Blaine, Maggie’s ex, played with understated threat by Nick Turvey.

The cast is completed by two policemen – or are they? Certainly Inspector Appleton (Garry Smith) thinks he’s in charge of the investigation, but Remick (Mark Duffus) also has some searching questions to ask.

However, like every character in this complex thriller, they may not be exactly what they seem – and if you think you can predict the final twists in the plot, you are in for a surprise as well as an evening of great entertainment!

Suddenly At Home is staged at the Apollo Theatre, Pyle Street, Newport from Tuesday 10th – Saturday 14th September, curtain up 7.30pm. Tickets available from the website at https://www.apollo-theatre.org.uk/suddenly-at-home/ or from the Box Office on 01983 210010.
But hurry – tickets are selling fast!

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