Alfred Hitchcock’s classic story comes alive on stage in The Classic Thriller Theatre Company’s adaptation of The Lady Vanishes.
This story follows newly engaged Iris Henderson as she travels home to England by train for her wedding. Iris (Lorna Fitzgerald) is soon wrapped up with a bizarre assortment of passengers, ranging from nuns t0 Nazis. Things quickly begin to go amiss, however, when the quirky, charismatic Miss Froy (Juliet Mills) disappears. In a suspenseful, quick-witted whodunit, Iris races the clock to find Miss Froy and uncover the truth.
The production opens at the train station, where Froy and Iris quickly become friends. The plot really picks up steam (quite literally) as the passengers board and the train takes off. While Juliet Mills is only in the production a short while before Froy’s disappearance, she plays the part wonderfully. Her character is poised, yet enigmatic, and viewers will be combing through every line for hints into Froy’s past.
When Froy vanishes, Iris enlists the help of Max (Matt Barber), an English musician, to help her crack the case. Despite getting off to a rocky start, Barber truly captures the stage in act two. His awkward, lovable character perfectly balances Iris’ intense, and sometimes chaotic, drive. Barber delivers his lines perfectly, and his witty quips add humour and life into an otherwise melodramatic plot. Though certain moments seem to break character, Barber nonetheless delivers a solid performance.
The simplicity of the set establishes a suspenseful tone while allowing the audience to scrutinise every character’s actions. With just two traditional train compartments and a few tables for the dining car, the stage somehow creates an endless number of places to hide. As the mystery unfolds, the audience is left to question what actually happened behind closed compartment doors.
Despite the carefully laid suspense leading up to the climax of the production, the final few scenes fell short. For most of the performance, the cast effectively straddles the line between anticipation and melodrama. In the final moments, however, some of the cast members’ performances are so exaggerated they feel almost satirical. After an hour and a half of build-up, the big reveal lacks a sense of realness and nuance. Despite this, a few of the characters carried the story until curtains fell and had the audience cheering in celebration.
As true crime inundates the film industry, The Lady Vanishes transports us into a fictional world of old-timey mystery and conspiracy.
The cast keeps the audience engaged and while the plot keeps viewers second-guessing every theory. And as Iris and Max navigate a web of lies, only one question remains: what ever happened to Miss Froy?
The Lady Vanishes
Image: Paul Coltas, Via Capital Theatres