In anticipation of our upcoming stage adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic The Lady Vanishes, which rolls into Swindon this September, we were lucky enough to preview the production during its current cast run at Cardiff New Theatre this week. Read on to find out what we thought (no spoilers, we promise!)…
The stage is set. It’s 1938 at a railway station in Nazi-occupied Austria. The mystery is about to begin.
We meet a multitude of colourful personalities waiting to board a train bound for Switzerland. The characters we meet can only be described as European stereotypes which make for a rather amusing watch. We meet Iris Carr who is a beautiful and wealthy socialite who is befriended by, Miss Foy, an elderly British (and therefore very well spoken) governess after Iris suffers a blow to the head whilst waiting for their train. Once on the train, they meet a formidable doctor, two pompous cricket-obsessed brits, a flamboyant Italian magician, and a German soldier with no sense of humour to name a few.
As the title would suggest, someone has to disappear and this is Miss Foy. Without the help of fellow passengers –who deny ever seeing Miss Foy- Iris is left to solve the mystery alone, with the help of Max her sidekick.
The show opens with a rather foreboding atmosphere. Nazi flags drop down and reminds us of the dangerous time the characters are living in. The dim lighting and chilling music used throughout, set for the perfect atmosphere that continued spectacularly until the lights went out at the end of the show.
A complex plot coupled with the story set on a train makes for a challenging task bringing Hitchcock’s film to life. The set in itself deserves considerable recognition. The train station at the start of the show seamlessly transforms into multiple train carriages. The use of sliding carriage doors works well on many levels – mystery, storytelling and subtle comedy. The Slick scene changes and use of characters to do so, kept a fantastic pace to the show.
Along with our praise for the set, we have to spare some time to talk about the costumes. The elegance portrayed through the characters outfits is incredibly fitting with the era and of course the social class of the stereotypical characters. A similar story can be said for the use of props throughout. Clunky brown suitcases, china tea sets, uncomfortable looking wooden dining chairs and beautifully- vintage circus style props for the Italian magician (Signor Doppo) helped transport us back to 1938.
Finally the acting throughout was superb. It is a difficult job to convincingly sustain characterisation throughout such a renowned Hitchcock film. However the cast exceeded our expectations, which made for a ‘thrilling’ watch.
Above all, the detail put into this show is outstanding. The use of dry ice and dim flickering lights to inventively portray we are in a train is simple but oh so effective. These subtle creative decisions polish the performance and takes it to the next level.
As for the Wyvern Theatre, we are excited to host the premier of the brand new Lady Vanishes cast, including Coronation Street legends Gwen Taylor and Andrew Lancel who are detailed below in the shows updated poster.
The show is in Swindon Monday 2nd – Saturday 7th September 2019. You can book your tickets here.
We hope you don’t ‘vanish’ before then, see you all there.
Frankie & Abi
Wyvern Theatre Marketing Team