This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour saw The Cat and the Canary at arrangement with Lichfield Garrick.
By Julie Wallis
The Cat and The Canary
at Lichfield Garrick
Directed by Roy Marsden written by John Willard adapted by Carl Grose
This wonderful play which has been on stage since 1922 tells the tale of a reading of the will, set in a creepy old gothic style house with all six relatives waiting to hear who will get the entire fortune. But it is also the same night that a killer has escaped from the local asylum. With a storm raging outside, power cuts and unearthly sounds coming from the house this spine-tingling thriller has just enough gentle humour to keep you enthralled throughout.
With a star-studded cast, the play opens with the housekeeper Mrs Pleasant sitting in the dark as the storm rages. Played by the ever beautiful Britt Ekland the character of Mrs Pleasant is eerie, she dresses all in grey, she believes the house is haunted and she talks to her now-deceased master, that hint of Swedish accent gives her character an edge, making her even spookier.
As the guests arrive we meet Paul Jones (Mark Jordon), a skatty horse vet. He’s a gentle soul and a little accident-prone. I loved his character, he has some great little quirks, like the way he swings his legs and plays with his hair or places his hand into his pocket. It’s nice to see characters with character.
Tracy Shaw plays the glamorous author Annabelle West, oozing confidence and self-assured the feminine beauty Annabelle is the epitome of ‘old Hollywood’ with her dazzling charm and expensive wardrobe. She even makes pyjamas glam!
Marti Webb as Susan Sillsby is perfect as the somewhat stern auntie who arrives with her niece Cicily (Nikki Patel) in a flurry of fur coats and no… (I’m making no assumptions about their underwear, but you know the type). Harry Blythe (Gary Webster) is also perfectly cast as the street smart, wise-cracking, cockney wide boy. Final guest for the will reading is Charlie Wilder played by Ben Nealon. Smooth-talking and handsome, he’s only there for the reading of the will. Throw in a few other characters, a ghoul that creeps about in the dark and a corpse and you have the perfect setting for fear.
The sets are elegant and refined. The Cat and the Canary opens in the library of a grand country house, with wood panels a taxidermy fox, a collection of skulls and a bat skeleton it’s very atmospheric. Part two is a bedroom – a four-poster bed lets you know this house is classy. With only one brief-ish pause to reset back to the library, there are no distractions at all.
I loved the old charm of this play. It’s very much in the Agatha Christie-style of a proper whodunnit with lots and lots of plot twists towards the end.
The Cat and the Canary is an old classic for a reason, it’s charming, the characters are properly rounded and three dimensional and its terrific thriller. This is a sublime production with a truly stellar cast.
This really was worth venturing out for. The Cat and the Canary is at Lichfield Garrick until 14th March. Book tickets here: lichfieldgarrick.com/whats-on/drama/the-cat-and-the-canary/2547