The bran tub which is the Charles Vance Summer Repertory Season has come up with another intriguing period piece.
J Lee Thompson is remembered as a successful British film director whose notable films include Tiger Bay (which introduced Hayley Mills), Woman in a Dressing Gown, Ice-Cold in Alex and The Guns of Navarone, the 1961 box office smash which made him an international director.
But before the war he started out as a playwright, and this play, first produced in 1942, was the link between his two careers when it became the first film he directed.
It would be wonderful to discover that it was a little forgotten masterpiece, but unfortunately it isn't that. Starting out promisingly like a Noel Coward comedy as a tipsy couple arrive home - the setting is a rather decadent middle class West End - events quickly turn when Stephen decides he has to get his mistress Grena out of the flat because his wife is unexpectedly returning home.
An argument and a struggle ensue and Grena ends up dumped in an ottoman, apparently deceased. As he tries to work out a solution to his predicament, with both his wife and the attentions of his snooping landlord Matthew to contend with, Stephen gradually disintegrates.
But is Grena really dead or, indeed, in the ottoman? Perhaps the title of the play is a bit of a giveaway. Anyway, the focus is on the psychological sparring of Stephen and Matthew. Although they are friends on the surface, it's quite difficult to fathom their relationship and Matthew is an ambivalent character who is difficult to place.
So the play teeters on the edge of being interesting, but it is ultimately undermined by the rigours of the weekly rep routine. While Paul Fields brings more emotional weight than you might expect to the weak character of Stephen, Steve Dineen has an awful lot of words as Matthew and doesn't have them sufficiently under his command - a fatal flaw in what might otherwise have been a subtly chilling performance.