A touch of danger comes to the Mercury

A Touch of Danger by Francis Durbridge at Colchester Mercury until Saturday.The great challenge in mystery theatre is to pick out early on who you think is the guilty party so you can be a smart aleck over the interval drinks.

David Henshall

A Touch of Danger by Francis Durbridge at Colchester Mercury until Saturday.

HE great challenge in mystery theatre is to pick out early on who you think is the guilty party so you can be a Smart Aleck over the interval drinks. Francis Durbridge always makes this game very difficult.

He's the master of the genre, slipping in enough red herrings to feed a starving family and scattering clues that fill you full of detective confidence but eventually lead you up a slippery garden path.


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In this one he allows us to see a couple of murders, one man shot, another stabbed to death but they don't help much as we attempt to understand why Max Telligan has got himself into a tricky fix.

He's a successful novelist and has just been reported shot dead on a trip to Germany. His estranged wife and secretary are understandably upset by this news and even more surprised when he walks through the door a little later.

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The confusion occurs because the man murdered in Munich was using the car hired in Max's name, a man who had just offered the writer a million dollars for the rights, not to his latest novel, but to his diary.

Max is very close-lipped about the diary and we suspect there may be some pretty salacious stuff in there about notable people. Of one thing we are certain, the diary holds the answers to everything that is puzzling us. Or does it?

What is actually testing our investigative powers is a terrorist plot of the first water involving the CIA and a very smooth gentleman from MI5 or MI6 or wherever, who can make bodies disappear with wonderful facility.

Neil Stacey plays him with splendidly cool detachment against Simon Ward's rather laid-back, cynical Max as the evidence builds and crumbles and builds again in a different direction.

Liz Robertson is Miss Efficiency, the secretary who keeps Max on the move and Sandra Dickinson is his wife on the way to divorce. There are a number of good laughs and finger of suspicion points all ways before we discover whodunnit.

And, when we finally get to hear the odd excerpt from the diary, the only thing we can be absolutely sure of is that nobody in their right mind would pay a million dollars for this stuff.

David Henshall.

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