At precisely 6.45pm young Ronald Kentley was strangled with a rope by two fellow undergraduates, who subsequently deposited his body in a chest. Later that same evening his friends and family, including the deceased’s father, are invited round to a tea party.
As the evening progresses the perpetrators increasingly test their ingenuity and morality to the limit; but will any of their guests realise their dark secret?
Based on a real case, Patrick Hamilton’s dark classic presents a chilling anatomy of an apparently motiveless murder, and a brilliant snapshot of a jazz-age generation wallowing in privilege, booze, parties, a shallow obsession with fashion and films, and a desperate inner emptiness.
Premiered in 1929, and later adapted as a film by Alfred Hitchcock, it is brought back to life at the Almeida by director Roger Michell (Blue/Orange, Honour, Landscape with Weapon at the National Theatre, Pinter’s Old Times and Betrayal at the Donmar Warehouse, and the films Persuasion, The Mother, Venus, Notting Hill and Enduring Love).
Hamilton’s other plays include Hangover Square and Gaslight (revived at the Old Vic in 2007).
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