‘Telling the truth is about as safe as skidding round a corner at sixty’ asserts Charles Stanton in the first scene of ‘Dangerous Corner’ by J B Priestley, currently showing at The Apollo Theatre, Newport.
‘And life’s got a lot of dangerous corners,’ agrees his hostess Freda Caplan. Her husband Robert is confident that he can negotiate round these corners successfully, and discover the truth about the death of his brother Martin. Along the way however, he does indeed skid into many unpleasant truths, with a denouement that invites the audience to question whether honesty is always the best policy.
The catalyst to this quest for truth is a chance remark about a cigarette box which is pursued by Robert, capturing the interest of their dinner guest, novelist Maud Mockridge, played by Maureen Sullivan, clearly on the trail of a plot for her new book.
Steve Reading as Robert Caplan steers the play believably through its treacherous waters, weathering revelation upon revelation towards the inevitable finality. His real wife Helen plays Freda with equal skill, evoking empathy with her own anguish, yet laughter with her ‘light touch’ as she ponders the social etiquette around offering sandwiches to a guest about to be accused of criminal activity.
The young couple Gordon and Betty, played by Jack Tutt and Amelia Harvard, portray love’s young dream admirably at the beginning of the play; each actor dexterously tracing their character’s descent into despair as their own secrets are revealed.
Ian Moth as Stanton is the epitome of a 1930s upright middle-class gentleman who just about manages to retain his proverbial stiff upper lip despite being forced to admit that he is not what he wishes to appear to be.
Even Olwen, the trusted employee of the publishing company run by the three men, has her secrets, and Maria Wilkinson adroitly brushes off the questioning until she is forced to recount her experiences in an intensely moving speech.
Each performance from this cast of experienced actors enhances the others on the stage, itself set beautifully to portray a typical 1930s drawing room. A special mention should also go to the costume department for the way in which each actor’s outfit illustrates their character.
If you enjoy a play that entertains wonderfully and leaves the audience with food for thought, I strongly recommend that you see ‘Dangerous Corner’ which plays at the Apollo until this Saturday, 20th February.