Love From a Stranger
- Lorna Irvine
- 3 July 2018
Agatha Christie thriller is less than thrilling
There is often a reason certain plays remain obscure. So it is with Agatha Christie and Frank Vosper's 1936 adaptation of Christie's original short story Philomel Cottage. It is simply a messy script, which hasn't aged well.
Cecily Harrington (Helen Bradbury) is a flighty sort of young lady, having eschewed her reliable, but dull down to his loafers fiancé Michael Lawrence (Justin Avoth) for a new love, American photographer Bruce Lovell (Sam Frenchum). Her friends and family, stuck in the middle, can see no good coming of this, foreshadowed in the brooding and voyeuristic scenes of Lovell's mood swings, deftly lit by Oliver Fenwick and soundtracked by an ominous, obvious score.
There are clear parallels, through Lucy Bailey's direction, with Lovell to both Donald Trump and Andy Warhol – both symbols of very different American eras. One symbolises rebellion, art and progressive attitudes; the other, a more reactionary and pernicious ideology. Yet the script's weak characterisation undermines Frenchum's quirky performance.
There are a couple of flashes of brilliance, such as the eroticism at the denouement, and the cast work incredibly hard, but with such poor writing and a distinct lack of tension, it feels like such an incredible waste. In the main it's a forgotten relic, gathering dust: best leave it there.
See at Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Now touring.