Sunday, 16 December 2018

Killer tale twists its way to a brilliant finish

WHY anyone would be roaming the Lake District fells late on a dark, windswept night in the depths of winter

WHY anyone would be roaming the Lake District fells late on a dark, windswept night in the depths of winter is a bit odd to say the least.

But theatre is all about suspending disbelief, so when a climber turns up at an isolated Lakeland hotel seeking a room for the night, we know he probably won’t be making it down to breakfast.

And this is indeed the case in Stone Cold Murder — a cleverly-crafted thriller by James Cawood and directed by Patric Kearns at Windsor’s Theatre Royal this week.

Presented by the talking Scarlet theatre company, the play keeps the audience gasping and guessing as it twists and spirals with plots, counter plots and, of course, murder most foul.

From early on, we all know whodunnit — or think we do — but why this poor unfortunate gets it in the neck is a mystery.

As to the identity of the killer, well, he’s something of a puzzle too.

The story involves greed, duplicity, revenge of an old boyfriend and a stolen diamond.

To explain more would give the game away, but just to set the scene...

The cosy evening planned by newlyweds and newby hoteliers Olivia and Robert (Freya Copeland and Nick Barclay) is shattered when climber Ramsay turns up having apparently lost his way in the hills.

Despite having closed for the winter, the couple find him a room, but it soon becomes apparent that he’s after more than a night’s bed and breakfast.

Joining the couple for a drink or several, Ramsay (a spirited David Callister) appears to want something that he thinks feisty Olivia has.

She does indeed seem to be hiding something because when ex-boyfriend Sam (Gary Turner) barges in brandishing a gun, he wants it too.

Despite the odd first-night technical hitch and some curious (and superfluous) background music — low enough not to intrude yet loud enough to distract — this is good escapist entertainment with a brilliant final twist.

Stone Cold Murder is at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, until Saturday.

Review: Carol Evans

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