Theatre Royal Windsor (venue)
21 January 2020 (released)
21 January 2020
Where there’s a will there’s a way…to murder.
The new theatrical adaptation of John Willard’s 1921 play “The Cat and The Canary” successfully combines so many elements of the classic murder mystery. If you want gothic chills, revelations of family secrets, sparring for love, macabre mystery and a twisting finale then this is the play for you.
The forbiddingly creepy Glenthorne Manor nestling in the dark and stormy Cornish Moors provides the perfect setting for drawing together the extended family of a long dead eccentric psychologist. He has delayed the reading of his will by 20 years as he felt there were no deserving members of his family at the time of his death.
The first character we see is Britt Ekland. Retaining her bond girl glamour, she brings a sprightly energy to the role of the grey haired Mrs Pleasant. Much more than a loyal housekeeper, she is part of the very fabric of the mansion and makes the ghosts of the past feel very much present as the story unfolds. As the sharp tongued Susan Sillsby notes, Mrs Pleasant is not aptly named as she can be far from ‘pleasant’.
Eric Carte, as the solicitor; Roger Crosby, appears to bring a calm and measured approach to the proceedings as he will take responsibility for revealing and executing the will. Harry Blythe (played by Gary Webster) is the first of the family to arrive, this street talking boxer doubts he has much chance of inheriting the house but curiosity drew him to it. He bristles at the thought of seeing his “annoying brat of a cousin”, the flamboyant actor Charlie Wilder (Ben Nealon).
Briony Rawle stepped ably into the role of Susan Sillsby (as Marti Webb couldn’t make it last night) – conveying crotchety impatience in contrast to her niece, the charming Cicily Sillsby (Nikki Patel). Mark Jordon stumbles into the gathering as the cousin who is a bumbling country vet, Paul Jones. The prospective heirs are completed by the delightful Tracy Shaw, alluring and vulnerable with hidden strengths as Annabelle West. Once she’s named heir, Annabelle finds herself at the centre of the action and the plot thickens with the announcement of an escaped murderer prowling around the house.
The drama moves to Annabelle’s bedroom. As the other characters reel in and out in attempts to cajole and manipulate her, it’s fun watching her cavort about in her silky pyjamas, fluttering to escape the clutches of the evil feline schemers surrounding her.
Screams, murders and gun shots ensue as we tumble towards the resolution. Can you guess the ending before the curtain falls?