Twists and turns in this Durbridge tale

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After dallying with ghosts for a couple of weeks, the Classic Thriller Season returned to more familiar pastures with Francis Durbridge’s Fatal Encounter at the Theatre Royal.

Durbridge is a long-time favourite with audiences in Nottingham.

As he said: “My thrillers are not so much whodunits as will-he-get-away-with-its.”

So enter publisher Howard Mansfield (Andrew Ryan) and his wife Joanna (Susan Earnshaw). She’s soon raiding the drinks cabinet in search of the scotch in their smart London flat of the early 1960s.

And when Joanna discovers that one Perry Kingsley (Adrian Lloyd James) is not all he seems, she shoots him in the midst of a struggle.

Her husband is soon packing her off to their country cottage and preparing to take the rap himself.

Here Ryan is superb as a controlled Mansfield, carefully preparing all the answers which are inevitably going to be asked by the current week’s top man from Scotland Yard, Chris Coldwell, stylishly played by Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.

Twists, turns and intricate webs quickly indicate that there is far more dodgy goings-on here than a mere killing on this July afternoon.

There is a flashback to Joanna’s first meeting with Perry Kingsley, which clears a little of the mist away but everybody follows more than one red herring before truth finally outs.

A lot of callers, too, and Ryan’s expressions say it all as the telephone constantly rings and the doorbell gives him little peace.

Jacqueline Gilbride as Kingsley’s ex-wife Grace, Michael Sherwin as art dealer Mark Adler and Sarah Wynne Kordas and Alan Magor all bring something to the fun.

Karen Henson directs and designer is Geoff Gilder.

As with much of Durbridge, some concentration is needed to follow all this action but it is well worth the effort in an enjoyable evening.