THE 2012 season is now underway at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
To quote the theatre’s artistic director John Durnin: “All of the shows are about theatrical imagination. They include things you wouldn’t normally experience on the stage and they either have a film connection or have a cinematic quality.”
‘Rope’, a psychological thriller, was written for the stage by Patrick Hamilton in 1928 and subsequently filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948 with James Stewart playing the character of the weak and nervous Charles Granillo.
Unlike normal thrillers, from the first scene the audience is aware of the murderers, Brandon and Granillo, and the suspense is built around the guilty characters who believe they have committed the perfect murder and assume an air of arrogance and superiority over their guests at a supper party. The guests are all known to the victim but not aware that the large, decorative chest forming the table for the supper contains the body of the victim.
In boasting of the art of murder, Wyndham Brandon (Elliot Harper) quotes back to one of the guests, Rupert Cadell (Dan Smith), his own teachings on the superiority of intellectual man over common man and how the definition of killing varies between war and murder. Cadell becomes suspicious of the behaviour of the couple, especially when Sir Johnstone Kentley (Robin Harvey Edwards), the victim’s father, receives a phone call reporting his son has failed to return home. Cadell plays on the inconsistency in parts of their story, which results in the weaker character Charles Granillo (Charlie Tighe) drinking himself into oblivion while Brandon becomes more desperate in his attempts to convince Cadell that all they have done is in accordance with Rupert’s own teachings.
The action takes place during a single evening in 1929 in a house in Mayfair, London, shared by Brandon and Granillo and in the tradition of Pitlochry productions the set design is of the highest quality, creating great atmosphere with its strange and wonderful artefacts, enhanced by subtle use of the lighting – at times none at all. The scale of the windows, emphasised by the large drapes, is brought alive by the thunder and lighting which creates further tension in the room as the murderers try to keep to their agenda for the evening. In an offstage room the jazz sounds of dance music heighten the macabre deeds committed on stage.
Directed by Richard Baron, the production holds the audience’s attention from beginning to end. The lack of action which modern audiences are more used to is overcome by the use of words and crafting of the denouement. The supporting actors have little to add other than some light-hearted moments.
‘Rope’ is presented in repertoire until October 12. Details of this production and the other plays can be obtained from the box office at Pitlochry Festival Theatre (01796 484626) or pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com.