Edinburgh Fringe 2017
We enter to the two figures of Rose and Fred sitting in adjoining interview rooms whilst two detectives are sat opposite. There is a fifth figure standing offstage who we later discover was the nanny they abused. This is the story of their initial arrest and the investigation into the disappearance of their daughter Heather. We know now that it was oh so much more than just the disappearance of one child now but but as we see Rose, all manipulative and scheming, whilst Fred is naïve and wholly manipulated, their evil drips off the stage and begins to creep into your psyche. By the end of the piece it is all so much better, but it isn’t really.
This is a powerful piece of theatre that pulls no punches but has patchy elements to it that leave you a little dissatisfied. The script is clearly following a real life event with transcripts and recollections plundered for it to be authentic so there is little by way of narrative that can be criticised. The direction manages to keep us on our toes and the characterisations of both Fred and Rose go beyond eerie.
When we have either one in the chair this powers through and we get a real sense of the evil relationship between them. Rose’s bullying and sinister nature is never more so obvious than when she deals with Carol, the childminder. The detectives have a struggle on their hands theatrically as the power in each of these evil characters gives them little space to develop and at times these two hander scenes need the power of those evil twins in deed to make them work more effectively.
If ever the word vile was given heart, soul and pulsing veins, Rose is it. She straddles the piece like a Harpy on acid as she barks instructions to Fred, barks at each detective in turn and howls throughout. Theatrically it gives her a piece of the stage that even when she is off, she inhabits.
With a story that has more drama than you average Friday Night Horror Double Bill it is a gift of a narrative and the panic ensuing when it is realised that they let this couple collude is very real and when our detectives come into their own.
The set is functional but very much a set of police rooms or the West’s house when needed whilst the lighting and interplay between things like the table on wheels, the clothing that, particularly for the Wests make it so authentic and the innocence of Carol as a counterpoint make this a great drama that was well worth seeing. With the observations though we are on the cusp of a compelling drama that has potential marking out this company as one worth the watching.