Rope by Patrick Hamilton

Review by: Linda Flowers

“Rope” is an unusual play – disturbing, macabre and full of suspense. The simple set of one room is perfect for the action. The language and props reflect the period as does the music. The audience on the night I attended particularly enjoyed the off stage laughter effect from the guests in the other room.

The subject matter is both horrifying and shocking. We know from the very beginning that students Brandon (Matthew Pert) and Granillo (Oscar Aleman) have committed murder and the tension develops as to whether they will be found out.

As they bicker, we see their relationship disintegrating and this makes us wonder about the real nature of their relationship. Brandon shows the true darkness of his character through his arrogance and over-bearing dominance of the weaker Granillo and his calculated courtesy to the victim’s father. Granillo’s descent into drunken wreck is well drawn. Both parts were very demanding and sustained very well throughout.

The dinner party interplay is witty and funny with Leila (Gina Sneesby) and Kenneth (Stuart Clark) cleverly giving us the light side to contrast with the darkness of the hosts’ actions. Sabot the maid (Rosalind Morris) only appears in Act 1 but adds to the plot development.

Sir Johnstone (Oliver Clement) – the victim’s kind father – and his distracted aunt (Jackie Withnall) provide special pathos. Pitifully blind to the fate of Ronald they return home after a phone call and we know what horror is to follow. Sir Johnstone’s handling of the phone call is particularly poignant.

Tom Raw’s excellent portrayal of Rupert Cadell keeps us guessing as to what he knows. Will he expose them? His character – the poet who is injured in the war develops and shows he is not the amoral cynic he thinks he is.

That the two have committed murder just for fun, revealing that philosophy is their motivation, makes this play all the more horrifying.

Danny Mullings straightforward period production works extremely well. This tight knit ensemble brings this period piece to life and leaves you imagining what happened next.

Rope is performed by The Woodhouse Players, 13th September 2014

Directed by Danny Mullings

Asst Director, Jenny Williamson