Rope

EMILY MARR is blown away by a production that is as slick as it is moving

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Patrick Hamilton’s Rope (1929) is set in a Mayfair apartment, beginning shortly after the cold-blooded and motiveless murder by two well-to-do Oxford students of a fellow undergraduate.

Having disposed of the body in a trunk, the young men proceed to give a dinner party at which the guests, including the frail and devoted father of the murdered boy, are invited to eat off the trunk in question.

The other guests include two ex-schoolmates of the murderous pair; one a guffawing and dopey BFG, the other a shrewd and cynical figure, as well as a couple of exceptionally dim-witted and rather non-descript females (I rather suspect Hamilton wasn’t someone who could be labelled as a rampant feminist…).

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The set design was intricate and well thought out, and the production team turned what is a fairly limited space into a remarkably realistic set.

Moreover, the sound and lighting – an aspect of productions that I am usually guilty of passing over – was so good that it really marked Rope out as an unusually polished and technically adept show.

Indeed, if I were to ascribe one word to the evening as a whole, it would be slick.

From the energy of the cast as a whole to the charged scenes between Brandon (Oliver Mosley) and Granillo (Alasdair McNab), the play as a whole came together beautifully.

Director Olivia Stamp, aided by Assistant Director Joanna Clarke (who also gave a very natural performance of Sabot, the housekeeper), has clearly put a great deal of time and energy into this production – and it has really paid off.

Whilst the cast as whole were hugely commendable, I really need to talk (or rave) about Ben Walsh, whose performance as Rupert was utterly flawless.

His stature, his speech, his minute facial movements; Walsh became his character, never faltering, to impress throughout the play.

Whether his lines were delivered with wit, menace or disdain, every last one packed a punch and was well-received by the audience.

Kyle Turukhia also gave a funny and committed performance as the goofy Kenneth, whose floundering courting of Leila gave some light relief amongst the darker moments of the play.

Indeed, the dopey charm of Kenneth contrasted brilliantly with the reptilian poise and charisma of Brandon.

This was a hugely impressive production, which gripped me from start to finish.

Both the cast and crew performed to the highest level throughout the night, leaving the audience – based on their comments on the way out – thoroughly entertained and stirred.