1959 marked NCP’s fourth year in operation and the company ventured into the world of murder-mystery with Rope by Patrick Hamilton which ran at the National Theatre from 6 – 14 February, 1959. The play is a whodunit in reverse with the murderers – two Oxford undergraduates – revealed from the outset.

For the mere sake of adventure, danger, and the “fun of the thing,” Wyndham Brandon persuades his weak-minded friend, Charles Granillo, to assist him in the murder of a fellow undergraduate, a perfectly harmless man named Ronald Raglan. They place the body in a wooden chest, and to add spice to their handiwork, invite a few acquaintances, including the dead youth’s father, to a party, the chest with its gruesome contents serving as a supper table. The horror and tension are worked up gradually; thunder grows outside, the guests leave, and we see the reactions of the two murderers, watched closely by the suspecting lame poet, Rupert Cadell. Finally, they break down under the strain and confess their guilt.

The lead roles were played by Roderick Graham and Geoffrey Best. The play was directed by Richard Moreton and the only review in existence points to a commendable performance marred only by setting the drama in a modern context.


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