Dr Terror reviews The Cat and the Canary Richmond Theatre (and touring)
If you go back far enough, what are now the creakiest of cliiches were presumably fresh as daisies. I couldn’t help reminding myself of this while watching The Cat and the Canary unfold: it had first appeared as a play in 1922, after all. That’s a full thirty years before The Mousetrap with which it shares many…er…trappings, and The Mousetrap has been running forever.

I was thus prepared to let every thunderclap, snipped phone line, ghostly gurgle and secret passage wash over me. There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen many, many times before even if you have never experienced any of the film or TV adaptations (I only had the vaguest of memories of the Bob Hope one) – but it’s all so comforting and reassuring. In the end, even if it maybe didn’t introduce these elements, when this play first premiered on Broadway, they would have been relatively unfamiliar to contemporary audiences. It’s just that it’s now nearly a century later.

The stock characters are also deeply familiar – as are the actors playing them: didn’t the jittery vet (Mark Jordon) used to be the ginger one in Heartbeat? Wasn’t the glamorous author (Tracy Shaw) a regular at the Rover’s Return not so long ago? Will the prim Aunt take that look off her faceā€¦or could she be Marti Webb? They all look quite a bit older than you remember them being with the exception of pugilistic Londoner Gary Webster who could still be minding the lockup for Arthur Daley. The icing on the cake has to be Britt Eckland – yes, THE Britt Eckland – pulling all the stops out as the spooky housekeeper, Mrs Pleasant.

The plot is ridiculous and makes no sense whatsoever but, after the last series of Doctor Who, I’m used to that happening. Would I recommend it as a night out? I’m honestly not sure.
I think it depends what you’re looking for. As a whole it has the aroma of a month old Gorgonzola – but forget the whole…just savour the sum of the parts.