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The Cat and the Canary at The Alexandra, Birmingham - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Review of murder mystery with Bond girl Britt Ekland
As the wet weather lashed the windows outside the theatre, there was a thunderstorm crackling inside too with this wonderfully creepy murder mystery.

The Cat and the Canary, alexandra theatre, Birmingham
Tracy Shaw gives a standout performance as lead in The Cat and the Canary

The Cat and the Canary has all the essential ingredients of a classic who-dunnit - isolated country house, group of eccentric suspects, thunder and lightning and a killer on the loose.

Similar to Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap but more exciting and scary in places, plus a lot more comedy - but it is based on a story once filmed with Bob Hope in his heyday.

At Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre for a week until the evening of Saturday October 9, this production from The Classic Thriller Theatre Company has their usual cast of familiar TV faces.

There's a bit more razzle-dazzle this time around with one-time Bond girl Britt Ekland alongside Anthony Costa from pop band Blue, Tracy Shaw of Coronation Street fame and Gary Webster from Minder. There's even Marti Webb and ex Soldier Soldieractor Ben Nealon, a regular in the Company's murder mysteries.

The Cat and the Canary, alexandra theatre, Birmingham
Britt Ekland in a different role from her one-time Bond girl image

Ekland is unrecognisable as a dowdy, eccentric old housekeeper until she speaks in her distinctive Swedish accent. It's Tracy Shaw though who stands out with a fine performance as the young woman at the centre of the plot.

The storyline sees a motley crew gather for the reading of a will in a remote mansion on the edge of a moor. The house was a bit mistier than normal as someone left the smoke machine switched on for the first few minutes of the show, but the experienced cast didn't show any hesitation, ploughing through the bearly visible stage.

It quickly emerges that only one of them will inherit but the other relatives have a chance if they are declared mad. That's when things start going bump in the night with an escapee from an asylum on the loose and all kinds of strange tales and backstories emerging, but who can you really trust?

The Cat and the Canary, alexandra theatre, Birmingham
Action, thrills and comedy in The Cat and The Canary

The play has a good pace, the professional actors are slick and there's always a chuckle around the corner plus an unpredictable ending.

Yes, it's a cliche, but it's exactly what it says on the tin and for those looking to cosy up to a good old fashioned murder mystery, you won't be disappointed.

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Why? See old fashioned murder mystery
When: Until October 9, 2021
Where: Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham
Cost: From 13
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