Dina La Vardera, a society member based in Wiltshire wrote this review after seeing Dangerous Corner at Salisbury Playhouse in February.
I am pleased to report that Priestley weaved his magic from the opening blackout with the sound of a gunshot and a woman’s scream which made everyone jump and gasp, and held their attention rightthrough. When the interval came after Olwen’s revelation that Martin had not committed suicide, the family broke into excited chatter about who did it and who was involved, the girls guessing that sugar-sweet Betty was not what she appeared to be. Father joined in, announcing: ‘That Martin chap sounds quite a guy. I’d like to have met him.’ I thought that showed how real the characters had become to them and how involved they were in the story. Gareth Machin’s production captured the many aspects of Priestley’s complex play. The actors conveyed the manners and speech of the 1930s period well, and the comfortable Art Deco furnishing of the Caplans’ drawing-room showed up the thin veneer of their apparent stability and respectability.
The drama evolves through the slow revelation of the truth behind Martin’s death, when these rather smug individuals are forced to confess their part in events leading up to it. Reminiscent of the
unravelling of the truth in An Inspector Calls, we waited for the key event to come round again – the opening of the musical cigarette box.The use of the time shift, a feature of Priestley’s plays, really hasn’t been bettered by anyone else. In fact, I’m not sure I know of any other playwright who does this: Ayckbourn, perhaps, but he mainly plays around with parallel time frames. Like any good thriller or detective story, it is the complex characters and their relationships which underpin the key events.
The bickering among the friends gives way to a deeper level of psychological insight into the nature of love, and how little we really know of those with whom we share our lives. Pandora’s Box was opened and the secrets escaped. At the end, when the music burst forth from the cigarette box as Robert fiddled with the wireless, and then – this time – the lid was closed, there was an audible sigh of relief from the row behind. The characters paired off, elegantly dancing around the stage, and happily changing partners, one declining, another accepting, once again the assured and contented
people they had been at the beginning. But the audience now knew how fragile such moments can be, and how the world can turn on the spin of a coin, the roll of a dice or a disturbance on the airwaves.