THE Apollo Theatre in Newport presented a thriller — Suddenly At Home — for a seven-day run.

The initial gaggle of barbed small-talk offered little indication as to what would unfold during the subsequent two hours, as a virtually full-house observed a play that bubbled towards its culminating crescendo.

The production, an adaption of Francis Durbridge’s 1971 play, veers from the framework of a run-of-the-mill whodunnit, with the audience left under no illusion early on as to the intentions of Glenn Howard, a scheming protagonist, adroitly depicted by television star Graham Pountney.

Glenn is married to the insufferable Maggie (Chris Turvey), a menopausal woman in possession of a bulging bank account and far too much spare time, with her history of mental illness delicately touched upon.

With Maggie hankering for relocation to the Bahamas, Glenn finds himself conflicted between leaving her and remaining to take advantage of her affluence, with a compromise settled upon, allowing him to inherit the money as the only beneficiary listed in her will.

Ultimately, it is Sheila Wallis (Helen Reading) — ostensibly a glorified acquaintance of the couple — who provides the perfect foil for Glenn’s convoluted proposal to slay his spouse.

His deceit gradually unravels, as au pair Ruth Bechler (Carol Simpson) and adversary Sam Blaine (Nick Turvey) act as blurred layers to a deliberately elaborate, and necessarily hasty, cover-up, the latter a consequence of premature pillow smothering.

If the first half was calculatedly unhurried in its pacing, the second gathered momentum, with regular twists drawing gasps from the throng in attendance, causing one reviewer to fling his pen towards the wine glass of an unwitting spectator adjacent.

With the holes in his painstakingly formulated narrative gaping ever wider, it was fitting that Glenn finally received his comeuppance at the hand of one of the many scorned by his narcissistic actions.

Director, Evelyn Hicks, said: “The play takes so many unexpected turns that it makes the audience work as hard as the actors.

“We evolved with the script, and what fascinated me is that the actors added their own twists to the play, with no two nights quite the same.”

The Apollo Theatre will next stage Perfect Nonsense, from the works of P.G Wodehouse, from October 25 until November 2.

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