On the 25th of March 2019, Churchill theatre displayed an astoundingly talented-loaded performance of the 1938 British mystery thriller film The Lady Vanishes, directed by Roy Marsden. I can guarantee that no one in the audience was left unsatisfied, on the basis that the roar of applause at the end was absolutely deafening.

The story features a young woman named Iris travelling through continental Europe at the time of Hitler’s rise to power and the Nazi Germany reign. She boards a train with a lovely elderly lady named Miss Froy who helps her after she suffers an unfortunate hit to the head. She and Miss Froy are becoming fast friends – until Miss Froy disappears and everyone on the train denies ever having seen her. Iris sets out on solving the mystery of the disappearing Miss Froy with companion and love interest Max. She figures out that Miss Froy is a British spy who has been abducted on Hitler’s orders as she has news regarding a deal between Hitler and the Russians. After a gunfight, many deaths and a long journey to England, Miss Froy appears alive. Iris and Gilbert fall in love and run away together, and the thriller has a very deserving happy ending.

The evening began with the closed red curtain and a hushed audience. The curtain lifted to reveal an awe-inspiring set depicting a 1900’s German train station. The use of the artistic technique the ‘vanishing point’ gave a depth to the tunnel as if it was an endless track. The accordion music and Nazi regime flags along with the German speaking train staff set an excellent atmosphere that really gave the audience a sense of time and place. This set was then shifted to a very cleverly crafted steam train, from which steam continually leaked out and lights that would blink every time darkness descended. Tarin Farhana commented “The set was my favourite thing about the play, and the brilliant acting was a very close second!”. The costumes also helped us constantly remember at which point in time the play was set.

The endless list of excellent things about this play simply goes on, and it includes the very talented actors and actresses. Lorna Fitzgerald, Iris, really brought her character to life using enthusiasm. Her curiosity when investigating Froy’s disappearance I think intrigued everyone in the audience as her persistence was almost contagious. The chemistry between Iris and Max, played by Matt Barber, was electric and this was portrayed through their witty banter, their awkward contact and their mutual concern for their situation. Miss Froy was played by Juliet Mills, an Emmy award-winning actress. Her warmth and comfort almost radiated off the stage and her revelation of her secret and sacrifice of herself was contained so much depth and sincerity that the emotion rang through the hall. The Lady Vanishes was an intensely engaging performance and I would highly recommend to anyone who has a taste for thrillers, a good 40’s style mystery train and brilliant acting!