The Case of the Frightened Lady, Theatre Royal Bath

WITH a cast that includes luminaries such as Rula Lenska, Denis Lill, Philip Lowrie and Gray O’Brien and the penmanship of Edgar Wallace, this should be a riveting drama.

Sadly it is not. There is an air of menace certainly and a convoluted plot that makes you want to know the outcome.

But it is very ponderous and dated.

Rula Lenska gives a strong and convincing performance as the aristocratic Lady Lebanon, obsessed with the heritage of the house, the family and the line continuing, no matter what, including the inconvenience of a couple of murders on the premises.

Denis Lill as the slightly sleazy Dr Amersham positively exudes bad vibes.

There’s a good double act from Glenn Carter and Callum Coates as a pair of footmen who are clearly employed in an additional, undisclosed role in the household and who are to found in most scenes listening in the shadows.

The phrase ‘there’s someone listening’ became almost farcical, as characters being interviewed by the two policemen became instinctively aware of the eavesdroppers, apparently.

Gray O’Brien and Oliver Phelps as the police superintendent and his sergeant gave solidly sane performances in the midst of a bunch of very odd characters, including the young Lord Lebanon (Ben Nealon).

A backstory in India where various unsavory incidents had taken place adds an air of mystique.

But while the denouement is actually quite plausible, the whole production lacks vitality.

And, it must be said, the diction was not as clear as it should have been and what might have been important words were lost.

The Classic Thriller Theatre Company performance runs until Saturday.