Reviewed by Wendy Mildren
House Guest by Francis Durbridge and directed by Kirstin Telfer is touted as a suspense thriller, however it did not quite hit the mark.
The story is set in England where film actor Robert Drury (Terry Crowe) and his wife Stella (Janet Jauncey) are plunged into every parent’s worst nightmare when their son Mike is abducted. They have been informed they can not contact the police or friends but no ransom has been requested. Instead the kidnapper appears at their house and wants to spend two nights with them. However, the plot thickens when two supposed Police officers appear and in the course of their visit kill the kidnapper and reveal that they have taken on his role.
Crowe and Jauncey played their parts with a great deal of melodramatic flair, which did not gel with the stiff upper lip expected of the Brits. I’m not sure if this was actors choice or the directors, but it made the action of the play drag somewhat, which was a pity as both actors were giving their all.
Keith Manson as the bogus policeman, Burford, was very good and portrayed a menacing thug even when he was smiling. His dialogue and accents were maintained throughout. Mark Drury as his thuggish offsider, Clayton, played his part convincingly.
Others in the cast were Sarah Johnson as Drury’s secretary, Isabella Shaw, as the bogus reporter, Tom Kress as Crozier the original kidnapper and Clare Kelly as Dorothy, Drury’s cousin. All played their parts well and were believable in their roles.
Crowe took on the additional role of Henderson a look alike for Drury, who was supposed to pick up diamonds in New York for the crooks. In this role Crowe was believable. His South African accent made this character distinctly different from Drury.
The set designed by Tom Bayford worked very well and looked authentic. The lighting and the sound effects were all on cue, although the gun shots were a touch tinny. All in all the large opening night audience were appreciative.