Inspector Tanner is called to investigate a murder at Mark’s priory – the home of the Lebanon family – where he discovers that everything isn’t quite as it appears to be.
The house seems to be controlled by the family physician, the footmen act as if they’re more guests than servants, and the secretary is frightened for her life. Navigating his way through this complex mystery, Tanner finds himself close to unlocking a shocking and closely guarded secret…
The synopsis and the marketing for this show had me intrigued, I really like a good complex, mystery thriller, so I entered the venue full of optimism.
However, I’m afraid to say when the curtains closed after all the actors bowed, I felt very disappointed.
For me personally, ‘The Case of the Frightened Lady’ felt like it was just your average murder mystery that has been done many times before, and done better.
One of the biggest faults of this show was the writing, which wasn’t emotionally compelling in any areas.
The script was very slow paced, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes a good mystery works with a slow pace, but there needs to be a build up to the grand reveal in the final moments, and unfortunately I never felt any sense of build up at all.
The majority of the scenes were pretty much just characters info-dumping about events which always took place off-stage. This irritated me so much, because important moments which were crucial to the plot were never shown, so when they were mentioned, I was thrown back by the new info I was receiving, wondering where on earth they came from.
And it also didn’t help that the dialogue was very dry and bland. The humour was also a little weak. There wasn’t any moment in the play where I found myself smiling with enjoyment. I personally think for a dark story like a murder mystery you need a bit of warmth and humour to thrill an audience, but my friend and I were never thrilled at any moment.
And I didn’t find any of the characters emotionally engaging at all. I couldn’t understand their motives or their reasons for some of the choices they made, the script just left me questioning every character rather than have me care for them.
It’s sad to say this, but I didn’t find any of the characters memorable, and it’s even sadder because I think the actors for the most part gave very solid performances.
Actors like John Partridge, Deborah Grant, Robert Duncan, etc… they give decent performances, but I felt that the lack of character depth from the script just didn’t give the material these actors deserved in order to give even better performances.
But a lot of the actors ended up either mumbling or rushing their lines, making it very difficult to understand what was going on. And almost every actor had a terrible habit of performing with their backs to the audience! This annoyed me massively, because there were many moments where I felt like I was meant to be reading the faces of the actors, studying their emotional reactions to what was happening to them, but their constant ‘turn my back to the audience’ made it difficult for me to relate to the characters on a performance level.
Direction & Staging:
I think the worst thing about the show was the staging. I believe that if a director is given a not-so-great script, they can make it better by creating wonderful stagecraft and pushing the actors to heighten their performances by adding more to their characters. But everything felt very flat and lifeless.
However there was one moment in the second half of the play – involving an attempted murder – which was very well executed.
‘The Case of the Frightened Lady’ was very disappointing. I was really hoping for something so much better than what I saw.
‘The Case of the Frightened Lady’ result = 3/10