King's Theatre Edinburgh (venue)
18 February 2019 (released)
19 February 2019
Alfred Hitchcock’s acclaimed conspiracy thriller is vividly brought to the stage in this inspired adaption by Anthony Lampard, while the stellar cast – including Juliet Mills and real-life hubbie Maxwell Caulfield – find themselves beleaguered by Nazis, spies, potential killers and an awful lot of snow during a train ride from hell!
Right at the opening scene we find ourselves amidst a busy train station somewhere in a remote part of Austria, with passengers ready to board the train. With Swastika-banners dangling from the ceiling and Nazis marching up and down the platform we know straight away the timeframe of the story. Among them are young Iris (Lorna Fitzgerald) – a seemingly spoilt socialite about to get married to a Lord, English cricket enthusiasts Mr. Charter (Robert Duncan) and Mr. Caldicott (Ben Nealon) who simply can’t wait to return to ole Blighty for the next match, middle-aged lawyer Eric (Philip Lowrie) and his younger mistress Margaret (Elizabeth Payne) who is married and more than once remarks “My husband thinks I’m in Margate”, an Italian magician called Signor Doppo (Mark Carlisle) and Max (Matt Barber) – an outspoken young man with very socialist ideas who takes an instant dislike to Iris (meaning the two are bound to fall in love during the journey). Then there’s Miss Froy (Juliet Mills) - an elderly and extremely gentle soul (also on her way back to England) who introduces herself as a governess and seems to establish an unlikely bond with Iris. Bad news follows soon when a particularly nasty Nazi officer (Joe Reisig) informs the travellers that due to an avalanche the Zurich-bound train can’t depart.
While the stranded travellers sit about and ponder over what might happen next a blind beggar woman appears on the platform, singing and playing a particular tune. Finally it is announced that the train is ready to depart and the passengers couldn’t be more relieved. But shock, horror, disbelief: it’s not long into the journey when Iris observes that Miss Froy seems to have vanished completely and is nowhere found in any of the carriages nor in her own compartment. Worse still, no one seems to recall having seen a woman called Miss Froy! While an increasingly hysteric Iris is adamant to find her new ‘friend’ – getting unexpected help from Max of all people – Dr. Hartz (Max Caulfield) insists that Iris may well imagine Miss Froy due to the fact that Iris suffered a mild concussion shortly before boarding the train. To rub salt into the wound, another woman called Frau Kummer, wearing the vanished lady’s clothes, is found in Miss Froys train compartment. But what happened to Miss Froy, and did she ever really exist?
Expect thrills, twists and action galore in this fast paced production, with additional surprises and some humour thrown in for good measure. The performances are simply fantastic, with some of the actors playing multiple characters. You know you get quality with Juliet Mills but the rest of the cast are not far behind. Director Roy Marsden did a stellar job and that also goes for Morgan Large’s terrific set design!
THE LADY VANISHES runs until Sat 23rd Feb (www.capitaltheatres.com)