Not In The Book

Role: Timothy Gregg.

Thriller with good measure of comedy

The Belgrade Theatre Company makes a good sound job of a good sound thriller, Not in the Book by Arthur Watkyn.

A thriller, moreover with more comedy than expected - genuine comedy of character, so that when a potential murderer after a harrassing interlude with an unexpected caller cannot remember which container has the poison and which the sugar, his bewilderment is laughable in the manner of Bob Hope or Chaplin.

Mr. Watkyn's early plot laying is too crowded for subtlety, including as neat a coincidence as one can anticipate even in a thriller, but theatrical creditability is not strained too far. Once the South American visitor to the house of a middle-aged civil servant has established himself as a particularly nasty speciman (no offence to actor Patrick O'Connell - a compliment rather) we go rollicking away with incident and complication enough.

The book of the title, a crime novel introduced by a hopeful young author has a story seemingly pat to hand for the unexpected task of disposing of the visitor. But, as Mr. Watkyn implies, some things just will not fall out according to synopsis. How it happens I would not for worlds disclose, but our comfortable feeling that all will be well is not so wrong.

After all, no self-respecting thriller author could callously dispose of a character as pleasantly built up for sympathy as is Charles Kay's Andrew Bennett; with its quiet restraiant and careful timing this is one of the best performances I have seen from Mr. Kay. Cherry Morris contributes another of her delightful middle-class wives, first cousin to Mrs. Feather; Robin Parkinson bounds engagingly as their son; Alan Howard registers alternate hope and amazement as the prescient author, with Andrew Willsdon, Malcolm Rogers and Peter Palmer as the invaluable inspector, colonel and doctor-next-door. Richard Martin's direction, apart from making an intelligent policeman too stage-conventional, is sure and fast in a luxuriant setting by Sally Hulke.


Birmingham Post, 17th November 1959.

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