The Lady Vanishes at The Regent
The Lady Vanishes is a drama which is set on a train and becomes a mystery trip involving the disappearance of a tea-loving old lady. It’s also a nostalgic journey back to the build-up of the Second World War, and a comedy jaunt involving a very British pair of cricket lovers and a fake nun in high heels. Along the way a young couple fall in love, while an older pair of lovers fall out of it.
This stage adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 film retains all the suspense Hitchcock is famous for, while entertaining with gentle humour. In this respect it has the feel of a black and white film, it takes us to a different place from our current everyday lives but isn’t too taxing. It is an old-school thriller from the famous Bill Kenwright theatre stable, and stars two classic stage and screen actors Juliet Mills and her husband Maxwell Caulfield, so there is plenty of quality to drive this production. Mills plays Miss Froy, the lady who vanishes, and Caulfield is the doctor, who seems to have a prescription for subterfuge.
However, like a lot of travelling, this play has twists and turns, slower and faster paces, and it does take a little time to settle down and enjoy it.
Always sounding crystal clear was Lorna Fitzgerald as Iris, the main character. Iris is hit on the head just before she gets on the train “in a far corner of Europe” and then is completely bewildered when Miss Froy, who had helped her, just vanishes from her carriage. What’s more, her fellow train passengers then deny ever having seen Miss Froy. Helping Iris to unravel the mystery is fellow traveller Max, played by James Boswell, who is an engineer and musicologist – a strange combination of interests but one of these is crucial to understanding the outcome of the play.
The set design play a big part in this drama, providing a very atmospheric/cinematic opening, and the sliding train doors both add to the mystery and the humour.
This is a production which is worth its ticket money as there’s fun, drama, suspense and romance all packed into a couple of rail carriages.
Review by Jackie Gregory.
**The Lady Vanishes is at The Regent until April 13. Tickets are available from the Regent Theatre Box Office counter, by calling 0844 871 7649 or visiting www.atgtickets.com/stoke