Fine performances in new stage play

Green for Danger, adapted for the stage by Mark Simpson, Jill Freud & Company, Southwold Summer Theatre, St Edmunds Hall until August 1 and transferring to Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, August 4 - 8.

Thriller moves from screen to stage

Green for Danger, adapted for the stage by Mark Simpson, Jill Freud & Company, Southwold Summer Theatre, St Edmunds Hall until August 1 and transferring to Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, August 4 - 8.

The plot of this thriller emanates from a wartime novel and a subsequent film but it does not easily adapt to the stage.

However, Jill Freud's company gave it a good shot - with an inventive opening sequence and, despite a slow first ten minutes, a generally fast pace.


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The challenge of setting scenes in a hospital ward, an operating theatre, a nurses' hostel, a director's office, a dance hall and an urban labyrinth, was fully met by designer, Maurice Rubens, but often led to a stage full of scenery flats, being moved around like some awkward game of chess.

The cast and the back stage helpers responded brilliantly but, at times, there seemed more danger of the audience concentrating on the scene changes than on the development of what was, to say the least, a very implausible plot.

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We are watching events in a casualty hospital somewhere in Kent in September 1940. A man about to be operated on for a broken leg inexplicably dies as anaesthetic is administered.

Inspector Cockrill, played delightfully by Paul Leonard, is called in to establish whether murder has been committed but as soon as one of the witnesses announces to all and sundry that she knows something and will tell the inspector the next day, she is bumped off much more dramatically - with a dagger through her heart.

We are then confronted with a tangled web of deceit involving a string of suspects, building up to the traditional “whodunnit” d�nouement, with all parties on stage.

Director, Mark Sterling, captured the atmosphere of Second World War air-raids - punctuated by sirens, the drone of bombers and the clipped English spoken by middle-class women eager to don nurses' uniform in order to serve their country, snog the doctors and help treat - or in this case kill - the injured.

Fiona Steele, Angela Dixon, Nia Davies and Penelope Rawlins were splendid as the nurses while there were also excellent performances from Michael Shaw as a womanising consultant, Andrew Bone as a doctor with a skeleton in his cupboard and Paul Mooney as the hospital's weasel-mouthed deputy director.

All dealt magnificently with the dramatic action demanded as well as some awkward lines.

The decision by this theatre company to tackle a newly written play - the sixth such enterprise in the last six years - is to be applauded and it is, of course, set in a period well loved by Southwold audiences. But adapting the “broad canvas” action from a novel or a film for the repertory stage is, on this evidence, only achieved at a price.

David Green

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