The Last Great Hunt theatre company has travelled all the way from Australia with The Great Ridolphi, a fast-paced detective thriller about the theft of a famous painting. It is a powerful, action-packed Thomas Crown Affair meets the The Da Vinci Code, and entertains as much as it thrills.
The play is written by Chris Isaacs and stars Steve Turner as Victor O’Meare, the protagonist. Interpol pays O’Meare a visit as the show opens: his late father, magician Harry O’Meare (a.k.a The Great Ridolphi), is the prime suspect in the theft of a Goya masterpiece. The action then follows Victor as he tries to come to terms with the meagre inheritance his father has left him in his will – a suitcase full of magic ‘tricks’ and some odds and ends.
But as he starts to unpack it and clues tumble out, we track his journey across Ireland, Spain, France, Austria and Hungary, following each hint to the next. All the while, Interpol – convinced that he is aware of the location of the painting – is hot on his heels.
With a minimal set that involves a couple of chairs, a table and a telephone box, Turner works magic (pardon the pun) across the entire stage. The suitcase provides an interesting collection of props, each one carefully thought out and woven into the brilliant writing. Turner’s stage presence is magnificent, and his acting really brings his adventures in Europe to life. As the drama draws to a conclusion with the fate of the painting to be revealed, it also ties nicely into the tread discussing a man’s relationship with his father. The ending is imaginative and atmospheric.
The only minor fly in the ointment was the positioning of the telephone box – it’s a central piece of set, providing the backdrop to many different locations, but it was off to one side and I would have liked a better view of it.
But sit on the side of the stage with the box, and you’ve found yourself a winner. It's a fantastic, suspense-filled hour of well-written theatre. Full marks!