Thursday, December 8

House Guest – Allerton United Reformed Church

Originally written in 1976, Francis Durbridge’s House Guest can be best described as a quintessential “cosy crime” thriller.

 Spanning just over 50 years, Durbridge was a prolific writer of crime novels and plays and his most famous creation was Paul Temple, the debonair and exclusive private investigator.

House Guest is one of his least known standalone plays that centres around the kidnapping of a child and suspicious goings on with the so-called police!  Unfortunately, no Mr Temple is in sight here to sort things out!

The play by today’s standards is quite dated and some of the dialogue is gruesomely wooden but having said that its clear to see that the RADS have tremendous fun in performing Durbridge’s creaky script and I must say, their enthusiasm was infectious.

Durbridge employs his signature puzzle plotting and what a tangled web he weaves much to the sacrifice of a stronger realistic plot and more incisive characterisation.  Unfortunately, there is also an overabundance of explanation and needless exposition which slows proceedings down somewhat.

Overall, it is fair to say that House Guest is not one of Durbridge’s finer moments in the theatre however RADS directors Heather Dickinson and Christopher Jones got some solid performances from their cast and given the weakness of the script the entire company did rise to the occasion admirably.

The set design was rather standard, nothing out of the ordinary but the excellent lighting and sound by Arthur Pye compensated for this.

In summing up I enjoyed all the performances and the sharp direction, but it was just a shame that it was let down by a clunky script and a slow pace.

I’ll definitely look forward to their next production.

Reviewer: Kiefer Williams

Reviewed: 13th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★