Monday, 3 December 2012

In Review: LUTG's 'Rope' by Patrick Hamilton


Performed by Lancaster University Theatre Group
Director:  Josh Coates
Producer:  Floss Edwards
Costumes Designer: Beth Jones

DT3 at The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster
Friday 30 November 2012 at 7.30pm, and Saturday 1 December at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Tickets - £6/£7
Reviewed by Michael Nunn

Novelist, poet and playwright, much neglected these days, Patrick Hamilton led a chaotic life, making Dylan Thomas look like Noddy.  His dramatic masterpiece, Rope, was published when he was only 25, and highly regarded by Graham Green and JB Priestley.  Its intense and detailed scrutiny of upper-class life in London bears comparison to the later, darker works of Charles Dickens, and it is no surprise that another Londoner, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, made a film of the play, his first in colour, in 1949, after the BBC had made an early television version.

Set between the two World Wars, it deals with a couple of student friends, Brandon (Ollie Cumins) and Granillo (Tom Morris) who kill their younger colleague Ronald and place his body in a chest which later serves as a table for a buffet supper.  The various evening supper guests, noting Kentley’s absence, suspect nothing – or not immediately.  Tension mounts as do the irony, acid humour and intensity of the soirée.  War veteran and former teacher of Brandon and Granillo, Rupert Cadell (played splendidly by Ross McCaffrey) finally confronts the guilty pair.

Lancaster University Theatre Group channelled all their resources – costume, set, lighting, movement and some wonderful understated pauses - into what was one of the most thrilling, gripping and powerful shows that many student groups could only dream of.  No detail was missed, and Director Josh Coates and his team (Producer Floss Edwards, Costume Designer Beth Jones) and the very able cast of nine delivered a spellbinding 100-minute rendition - without an interval, which rightly served to heighten the tension and enhance the dramatic flow of this finely-wrought piece.

I was so impressed by the utter integrity and exemplary standards of this first-rate production, which would not be out of place in any professional theatre.

Copyright © Michael Nunn
1 December 2012

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