Criticising Rocket Theatre’s new show as a triumph of style over substance would probably satisfy the producers whose intention is to offer a delightful summer treat that requires little contemplation only consumption. As audience members enter The Directors’ Suite at the opulent Palace Hotel they are announced by the butler Middlewick (Dan Willis) with suitable ennoblements.
Over afternoon tea or evening meal we watch Lord Arthur Savile (Martin Harris, company founder and adapter) explain why he resolved to commit a crime. Having been told that his destiny is to commit murder he decides to get it out of the way so that he can enjoy his forthcoming marriage – a task that proves more difficult than he expects.
This is a minor work by Oscar Wilde but is very well delivered by the company. Harris is a marvellous interpreter of Wilde enjoying the rather purple dialogue and delivering the script in rich proud voice that would have satisfied the author. Willis provides the secondary characters with much being made of his ability (or occasional lack thereof) to provide convincing accents.
The whole thing works like a dream. Promenade and site – specific shows can be frustrating for an audience but Rocket go to great trouble to cover the entire room and ensure that they are clearly visible and audible; even if it requires Willis to perch on the back of a chair. The atmosphere of good will ensures that no-one objects to occasionally helping to fill out the cast. It is all part of the fun.
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime is a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon or evening.