THIS Francis Durbridge thriller is the latest treat offered by the Phoenix Players. Daphne Breakspear directs this superb production in which mystery, suspense, alarm and confused identities mingle in a convoluted plot.

Central to the play is Mike, the young son of film star Robert Drury and his wife Stella Drury. Mike, who never appears, has been abducted on holiday. However, instead of a demand for money, the kidnappers require time and the couple's co-operation in providing a safe haven in their home, and becoming innocent pawns in a transatlantic smuggling plot.

Nicholas Gratton has a key role as Robert, desperate to secure his son's release. Nicky Ashdown is Stella, driven to distraction by the disappearance of Mike. Their secretary Jane Mercer is played with calm assurance by Margaret Price. Sandra Gilbert is Vivien Norwood, ostensibly a journalist, and Jean Belt is the charming, slightly scatty Dorothy Medway.

The scary characters are Roger Trayhern, as Major Crozier, Paul Dawkins as Inspector Durford and Mark Harris as the sinister Sergeant Clayton. Philip Henderson, Robert's double, is listed in the cast as Tagart Nicholson. The entire play was a delight, with violence subtly concealed, and the gradual realisation that things are not at all as they seem.

The theme music, Coronation Scot, was the familiar theme tune of to Francis Durbridge's Paul Temple radio thrillers in an earlier era. House Guest, set in 1981, is a brilliant production, with an attractive, uncluttered set, good lighting and fine performances by the entire cast - another notable triumph for The Phoenix Players.

The play runs until Saturday January 26.

Stella Taylor