Lucinda Coxon’s adaptation of Harriet Lane’s debut novel is eerie and tense, with Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt giving a strong performance in the leading role – ★★★★

Coxon’s take on the book Alys, Always is a solid one, and it shows. Excusing the flowery, out-of-place dialogue, the novel’s first person narrative translates perfectly into a series of monologues and expositions from Froggatt’s character – a fitting artistic decision considering the production’s billing as a “psychological thriller”.

Photo: Helen Maybanks.

As much as Froggatt delivers a bold solo performance, her pairing with Robert Glenister (Spooks) as secretive widow and writer Laurence Kyte. Harry Potter‘s Jeff Rawle is also amongst the impressive cast, approaching the character of Robin – Frances’ newspaper editor at The Questioner – with his traditional charisma. Rising star Leah Gayer gives a standout performance as Laurence’s grieving yet exuberant daughter Polly.

With Alys, Always we see a contrast between a steady, tense pace – no doubt aided by Maddie Cutter’s performance as cellist – and a fast-moving protagonist. Frances’ rapid character development is effortlessly navigated by Froggatt, in a way that’s brilliantly deceptive and sinister.

This review was of a preview performance. Alys, Always is now playing at The Bridge Theatre until 30 March 2019.