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M (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Three Minute Theatre
Where: Manchester

Vertigo Theatre Productions previous version of M played homage to the fifties thrillers, this revamped and rewritten version is closer to the chiller flicks of the 1990s such as Cruel Intentions. However the main protagonists remain and it still revolves around a plot with more twists than a Chubby Checker song!

The beautiful M lives with her husband Sam and brother Tony in a swish Manhattan apartment. Independently wealthy, it soon becomes clear that while Tony remains unchanged by his wealth, M has become more manipulative, even down to using Tony's boyfriend Mark against him.

Adele Stanhope, as M, is excellent, moving from the cold-hearted bitch through the mental turmoil to the final dramatic ending with a convincing ease. Richard Allen as her brother is good as the mild mannered but confused character while David Degiorgio makes a a plausible alcoholic husband, driven to despair by his wife's attitude.

However, Rick Carter's Mark steals the show with one never knowing which way he will turn next. The rest of the cast. Ciara Tansey, (as accountant Catherine) Nathaniel Hall (as Tony's best friend Sebastian) and Mark Hill (as the detective), are all confidently solid in their performances and providing strong supporting characters.

Writers and Directors Craig Hepworth and Adele Stanhope have reworked their initial 'trashy' thriller into an even more complex and camp conundrum of a plot but this reworking has only emphasised how adept Vertigo are at producing great fringe theatre.

If you saw the original M then you won't feel short-changed by this new production; and if you didn't see the original then you will be delighted with this twisted tale!

- Helen Jones


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