Excellent twists and turns of Sidmouth thriller

Outstanding thriller from Charles Vance cast for Leslie Sands’ Something to Hide

“AND no-one would be anything the wiser.”

The opening words to Leslie Sands’ play Something to Hide, which, with hindsight, were full of clues to point the way in this intriguing detective story.

Howard Holt (Al Wadlan) is a romance writer, supported and published by his wealthy wife Karen; who doesn’t often visit him in the hideaway she bought him in a converted toll-house in Essex.

He is having an affair with the delectable Julie (Katy Withers) who has just told him she is pregnant.

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She leaves the house to fetch something from her car. Moments later there is a screech of brakes and a flustered Karen, (Kirsty Cox) arrives, having knocked her down in an accident.

The twists and turns in the plot that follow, would do any thriller writer proud, producing an exciting cliff-hanger, with these characters holding together, yet pulling apart the plot, digging themselves deeper into a hole as the story unfolds.

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Al gives a strong performance as the scheming Howard, who pushes his wife to the edge of sanity after disposing of Julie.

Kirsty is a brilliant choice as the wife, as we watch her change from a sensible law-abiding citizen, to a broken woman as she lies about the accident to the police. But there is more to her character than we realise.

Central to the action is the canny, gently-spoken Inspector Davies, superbly performed by popular Charles Vance actor James Pellow.

Not the “one old policeman” Howard expects to investigate, but someone with a perceptive mind hidden behind a smokescreen of considerate, methodical plodding, who knows something is wrong from the moment he steps foot in the toll-house and learns of Julie’s coincidental disappearance.

“Minor mistakes, confusion, slips of the tongue – these things aren’t evidence,” says a confident Howard, to which Davies replies: “Signposts, Mr Holt – pointing for the most part in the wrong direction, but at least they lead you somewhere.”

His understated humour adds to the tension – will he solve the crime?

Busybody neighbour Miss Cunningham is beautifully portrayed by Victoria Porter, who bustles her way into the Holt’s life offering snippets of information about the accident that had one guessing she might find herself disposed of at any moment.

Katy Withers is excellent as the fateful Julie, while Laura James as the cleaner Stella, makes much of her cameo role. David Wilkes as Mr Purdie completes the cast.

There was much more to this play than met the eye and it is well worth a trip to Sidmouth’s theatre to see this production, which ends on Wednesday. Tickets from the box office (01395) 579977.

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