Letter, The

The Letter

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon 26 Feb-Sat 3 Mar


Ah, I can hear the sweets rattling now. There’s nothing like an old fashioned West End-style thriller to lighten the load of a long theatre season, and Somerset Maugham’s tale of tropical intrigue might just fit the bill. The frequently-referenced heat of the setting certainly plays a role in the passions on display in this classic, though it might take a shift of imagination to sense it in an Edinburgh February.

Maugham’s potboiler is a piece which, having been regularly performed since the 1920s, isn’t to be lightly dismissed. See if you can name at least a dozen films, aside from the three celluloid versions of the piece itself, that have magpied the plot. Set in a steamy outpost of the empire, it sees a woman kill a man apparently intent upon sexually assaulting her. Her husband employs the best defence lawyers, but then a letter is discovered revealing that the dead man was perhaps her lover.

Maugham must have seen enough plots that borrowed this scenario to drive him, er, Raj. With housewives’ favourite Anthony Andrews (no matter how many movies he’s made, will he ever outshine his Sebastian Flyte?) and Jenny Seagrove as the star fodder, this might be a good night out.

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