Originally scheduled to celebrate Alan Rickman’s 70th birthday, the BBC recently dug from its archives their 1983 radio version of Patrick Hamilton’s Rope. Set in the early 1920s, and broadcast now to commemorate Rickman’s untimely death, Hamilton himself described it as “a thriller all the time, and nothing but a thriller.”
The play centres around two students attempting to commit the ‘perfect murder’. They hold a horrendous dinner party, centred around a chest-turned-coffin-turned-dinner-table. It subverts murder mystery typicalities by revealing the murderers in the first minutes of the play – instead, the suspense builds around whether they will get away with it.
The production captures the chilling, brutal sense the script necessitates, and Alan Rickman is, as ever, brilliantly macabre. His character powerfully states that “this is a very queer, dark and incomprehensible universe, and I understand it little. I myself have always tried to apply pure logic to it, and the application of logic can lead us into strange passes.”
As a tribute to the actor and to the man, this is perfect. Put it on in the background, face ridicule from your flatmates for listening to a Radio 4 play, and wallow in Alan Rickman induced woe.