The Many Crimes of Hector Cartwright, The Vaults Theatre

This Stylish thriller, from Rusted Dust, isn’t so much a whodunit but whydunnit. When the body of a young woman is found on the train tracks of a Northern town in post war Britain. It is up to old timer (and former MI5 man) Arthur Nelson (Paul Foulds), British Transport Police’s Tom Bayliss (Kieran O’Rourke) and Helen Wilton (Carys Lewis), a widow looking to keep up the advantages women had during the war that have now been taken away again. The only suspect is local teacher Hector Cartwright (Jonathan Blakeley), who had links to Resistance movement in Europe and happens to be only person in the area…

What follows is a series of twist and turns as we try to identify who is who with a series of flashbacks to Hector’s time in France with two sisters, Rina (Edie Newman), a French Resistance member and her Sophie, the naïve one having an affair with a German SS officer. It is a great story and would make a great full play with more scenes (so much is discussed due to limiting space/scenes) and has the potential to work on screen in a world without Foyle’s War.

The performances varied greatly and the lack of variation in the scenes got a bit stale (we only knew where we were due to a change of hanging picture and the position of the table) and whilst never unclear there was stumbling from Fould’s Nelson, a man who is meant to be the sharpest brain in the north, even if he is misogynistic towards his Wilton and whilst O’Rourke can write a great script he either is limited in his acting or gave himself a very limited character. It felt like the development of Lewis’s Wilton and Blakeley’s Cartwright couldn’t happen without making the rest of the characters quite one dimensional. There’s lots of scenes of convenience that don’t feel quite right and the strength is in the scenes set in France, though I came feeling like I knew very little of these sisters despite their presence and story being so crucial to role.

It has potential and it flowed well but I couldn’t get under the surface of this interesting, if unsatisfying play.

 

This production finished on 5 March.

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