The Lamplighters - Tabard Theatre (Review)
Review by Shanna Schreuder
“EVERY police officer has one case that haunts them.” This quote from The Lamplighters is the essence of what the play is all about. Raw, gripping and in-your-face, this play by Glenn Chandler, creator of Taggart, investigates the devastating effects of a miscarriage of justice and the human cost of an unsolved murder.
Set on the Cumbrian hills in the damp, run-down cottage of ex-policeman Frank Stringer (Mark Forester-Evans), the opening scene shows the annual reunion of Frank and his former colleague John McBurney (Shane Armstrong).
After a lively exchange of insults, they’re interrupted by a young crime journalist, Jo Tempel (Tara Howard), or as she likes to be know, crime historian, to discuss their former case and the reason why they’re there on the tenth anniversary of the brutal murder of a mother and her two children.
Being the drunkard that he is, Frank has forgotten he’d set up the interview on that day and when retired copper Alan Michaels (Steward Marquis), who also worked on the case, hobbles in he tells Frank that he’s “a loose cannon”.
Aware of it but not at all willing to publically admit it, the three men know that they imprisoned the wrong man all those years ago, especially as each year, they discover a wreath on the spot where the three were slain, which also adds to their belief that the killer is still out there.
The Lamplighters boasts excellent performances by the whole cast, particularly Armstrong and Forester-Evans. The scenes where they’re at each other’s throats are electric and hilarious. They’re a real treat to watch and their skilful delivery of each line means they do Chandler’s rich script justice.
This same intense connection is also alive when Howard and Marquis are to-ing and fro-ing about the anomalies of the case and the failure of the police to catch the real killer.
With The Lamplighters, Chandler presents a thoroughly convincing argument about why there should be more crim-based plays on the stage. When done as well as this one, they can go beyond the who-done-it question and highlight the flaws of our current justice system.
The Lamplighters is definitely worth catching before it closes on April 13, 2013.