To start with, I have to say I haven’t ever laughed so much when confronted by murder and mayhem as I did in this gripping production. That’s not to say that the play itself is a comedy. It’s definitely a psychological thriller. But the opening night audience laughed loudly and often, even in the most gripping moments. However, that did not detract from the mood or effect. Ian Rigney’s sure, experienced hand was well in evidence in his welcome return to directing. He managed the production splendidly, neatly balancing the humour and considerable tension.
The St Jude’s set design and construction crew maintained their high standard with the gloomy, oppressive farmhouse interior, and the special effects were alarming and impeccably timed.
Carolina Kay as Jan Sanderson was entirely credible from the outset. She was most impressive as the recently released psych patient, and readily convinced the audience that the events she was experiencing could have been either real or imaginary. Her performance was key to hooking us into the story, and always taking her side.
Leighton Vogt developed in his characterisation of Jan’s husband, Greg, from being submissive and nerdy to dominant and manipulative. In a play with many shocks, his transition was notable.
They were nicely contrasted by Miriam Keane, firmly believable as Greg’s scheming and unlikeable sister Laura, and Tim Cousins as the farmer George Willowby. He played the emphatic, comic yokel to a tee, stunning us late in the piece with another side of his character.
This is a well-crafted production and well worth seeing.