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posted/updated: 03 Oct 2011 -
Pack of Lies
High Whitemore
society/company: Erith Theatre Guild
performance date: 02 Mar 2011
venue: Erith, Kent
reviewer/s: Peter Wright (Independent review)

I saw this play last night and was impressed with the production and the theatre. It was my first time at Erith Playhouse, but I will certainly be going back.
The play is now something of a classic, focussing on the true events surrounding a pair of Russian spys, the Krogers, who lived in Ruislip during the late 1950's and early 1960's. From these true facts Hugh Whitmore has written a powerfully moving fictional account of the events leading up to their arrest with the action centered on the totally unsuspecting Jackson household - Bob, Barbara and their daughter Julie. The Jacksons live opposite the Krogers, believing them to be a convivial Canadian couple and their closest friends. Then a mysterious stranger arrives, announcing he is from M.I.5 and quietly coerces the Jacksons into allowing their house to be used as a surveillance post.

Debbie Hoyle and Graham Peters as Barbara and Bob Jackson are particularly good as the down to earth couple who finds their lives turned upside down. Natasha Kissane (Julie) makes the most of the small role and produces a credible show of emotion as she discovers the betrayal of her “Auntie Helen and Uncle Peter”.

David Maun (Stewart, the Man from MI5), gave a chilling portrayal of the man who rides roughshod over their everyday lives. Dressed entirely in black he added a menacing presence to the stage each time he appeared.

Melinda Hunt (Helen Kroger) made the most of her character, but appeared to be suffering with a bad throat. Peter Vale (Peter Kroger) made very little attempt to maintain his Canadian/American accent and appeared to be miscast.

The play was directed by Fred Hall who managed to create a good atmosphere with what is now, very much a period play. The set was an excellent re-creation of a 1950’s house, and the lighting was convincing.

Overall, this was a very good production, with some outstanding performances.

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