AUDIENCES familiar with Sir Alan’s early work – The Norman Conquests, Relatively Speaking, Season’s Greetings etc – might be in for a surprise visiting his Snake in the Grass, on at the Wharf Theatre in Devizes all this week.

This is not a satire on middle-class, suburban living; it is something much darker, a mystery suspense in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock. It is intriguing – and quite chilling.

Annabel Chester returns from 35 years in Australia for her father’s funeral to be confronted by his former nurse, Alice Moody, who tells Annabel that her sister Miriam murdered their father and, if Alice is not paid £100,000, she will go to the police with the story.

I must be careful not to give away too much of the plot for there are many twists and turns in this particular snake. Although the sisters are far from compatible, it turns out they have more in common than either of them can imagine; they are both victims of abuse.

As Miriam, Jax Brady is riveting. She is by turns winsome, wheedling, conniving and charming while Annabel Chater as Annabel gives a superb performance of strength, trying to come to terms with her sister’s homicidal streak.

Julie Baker’s Alice is hard as nails and totally convincing in her demands.

Tess Richards directs with verve and attention to detail. The pace never slackens, even in the later section where both sisters reveal their “ghost stories” about the abuse visited on them.

The set by Oli Beech and Paul Butler is excellent and the lighting and sound by Rob Bourne and John Winterton adds to the creepy atmosphere.

Not for the nervous, but totally engrossing, this is a production that you must see.