Dangerous Obsession

Barbara Dryhurst and Mark Spalding appearing at the Shelley Theatre with the London Repertory Players

Dangerous Obsession: Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth (Friday 18th August)

Traditional repertory theatre has been alive and well at the wonderful Shelley Theatre in Bournemouth this summer offering a timely reminder of the rapport that can be built between a small team of actors and regular weekly audiences.

The London Repertory Players completes a cycle of three plays at the Shelley with a compelling production of the psychological thriller Dangerous Obsession.

 A tightly directed three-hander, it finds Home Counties housewife Sally Driscoll and her businessman husband Mark playing host to a strange, rather uptight visitor who arrives on their doorstep with a briefcase full of trouble. It soon becomes clear that secrets will be revealed and a price paid for past betrayals.

Set in the conservatory of the Driscoll’s house in comfortable ‘commuterville’ in the early 1990s, the story unfolds deliciously slowly as the actors navigate dramatist N.J. Crisp’s cleverly structured plot. The tension is ratcheted ever higher but just as you think all has been revealed there’s a brilliant twist in store.

Barbara Dryhust is excellent as Sally Driscoll, who hangs onto an imperfect marriage with the help of nips of gin from the cocktail tray. Mark Spalding delivers a powerful performance as her brooding and irritable husband while Al Wadlan is superb as the strange, rather spooky visitor whose dull man-in-a-suit demeanour and unsettlingly precise turn of phrase mask his true intentions. His performance is a tour force with lengthy sections of dialogue delivered unfalteringly in character and never wavering from the context of this deceptively complex play. It brings home the skills required when performing one play while forgetting another and often learning a third.

Beyond its central plot, Dangerous Obsession explores the pretense of success and satisfaction so often prevalent among the aspirational classes.

It’s a brave play to tackle in a three production programme - the other two were Dial M for Murder and Come Blow Your Horn. Had they got it wrong Dangerous Obsession could have been as dull as proverbial ditch water but the London Repertory Players did it proud.

The company has returned to the Shelley Theatre after a successful run last summer and have now made it clear that they’ll be back again next year.

Dangerous Obsession runs at the Shelley Theatre in Bournemouth until Tuesday 22nd August.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022