DIRECTOR Karen Johnstone opted for a slow burning drama building up to an unexpected and shocking climax for the Woolstore Theatre’s spring production, Dead Guilty, by Richard Harris.

The curtains opened on an elegant set. The occupant of the house, Julia Darrow [Sophia Milburn], is an attractive young woman awaiting an operation after a car crash that killed her married lover.

She is visited every day by the doting Gary (Matt Spencer) and grief counsellor Anne Bennett [Katherine Beaumont], a down to earth and practical woman well aware that Julia’s sense of guilt and deliberate isolation from her friends in unhealthy.

Then her lover’s wife, Margaret Haddrell [Hilary Armstrong], asks to meet, desperate for any scrap of information about her husband’s last moments. Gradually Margaret begins to take over, dominating Julia’s life before the play’s shocking and dramatic conclusion.

Dead Guilty is a play with only four actors and this was a very strong cast who totally inhabited their characters and gave outstanding performances.

This was a defining role for Hilary Armstrong. Margaret initially appeared innocuous but, as the play progresses, there is a subtle change from needy to sinister and, by the final scene, the audience is aware that they are seeing pure evil.

As always, the team behind the production worked hard and this was a real team effort that resulted in a gripping and dramatic production.