Verdict? The jury’s still out ...

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Verdict - Blackpool Grand Theatre

IF you are looking for a traditional Agatha Christie whodunnit in Verdict, you may be left disappointed.

There are no blood curdling screams, no scenes of grisly murder and no moustache twirling detective in sight.

In fact, the action is a bit thin on the ground, the one rather predictable killing is done right in front of the audience’s eyes and followed by a full confession. But for lacking all the traditional Agatha Christie ingredients, Verdict is absorbing in its own way. It tells the tale of three doomed women who are drawn to the magnetic and morally complex Professor Karl Hendryk.

Robert Duncan’s sympathetic portrayal of the German exile showed a man who was lovingly eccentric but whose principles could shift in trying to do the right thing – often with catastrophic consequences. Susan Penhaligon was a thought provoking Lisa Koletzky, the stoic and steadfast other woman who was yet such a loving aide to her cousin, the professor’s wife.

Her loyalty to him, even in his betrayal seemed a waste of a strong women, and her speech about how ‘’People matter as much as ideas” summed up the whole premise of the play. Holly Goss was such a detestably, spoilt and tactless seductress as Helen Rollander, she actually drew some sharp intakes of reproving breath from the dress circle for her savagery.

Elizabeth Power made a rather grim faced, sticky fingered char women in Mrs Roper. Her morbid delight in newspaper misery and petty theft was a comic highlight. The play serves up some psychological food for thought – but the jury is still out as to whether it will satisfy die hard murder mystery fans.