It's the Tabard What Dun It - Again!

Nick Hennegan reviews The Lamplighters by Glenn Chandler


Murder He Wrote - Liz Vercoe Interviews Glenn Chandler

Book online at or 020 8995 6035 Tabard Theatre, 2 Bath Road, Chiswick, W4 1LW

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The Tabard Theatre at the end of Turnham Green Terrace is establishing itself as a home for top quality productions and this, their latest offering by Taggart writer Glen Chandler, will only enhance that reputation.

Inspired by the cases of The Birmingham Six and Colin Stagg, The Lamplighters explores an unusual theme - how a sensational murder case and miscarriage of justice can affect the lives of the police officers involved as well as those wrongly accused.

Shane Armstrong (John McBurney), Tara Howard (Jo)

Left to right: Shane Armstrong (John McBurney), Tara Howard (Jo).
Photo : Derek Drescher

Set in an isolated farmhouse on the Cumbrian moors, three former police officers meet on the tenth anniversary of a brutal triple murder that has effectively destroyed their careers. The man they put away has been freed on appeal and they hope their pilgrimage to the scene of the crime may finally solve the case. But the mist closes in and an unexpected guest turns up.

The quality of the production is immediately obvious. David Shields has created an excellent and claustrophobic recreation of a Cumbrian cottage and the lighting by Richard Lambert only enhances the feeling. An excellent cast are engaging from the off with Mark Forrester-Evans’ long suffering alcoholic Frank Stringer a foil to Shane Armstong's bullying John McBurney. Stuart Marquis is a some-time mediator, boss cop Alan Michaels and into this mix comes attractive crime journalist and historian, Jo Temple, (Tara Howard) who may, or may not have been invited. The second act opens with another stranger, the hyper Billy Tutle (Scott Oswald) in the croft.

It's not a perfect production; some of the nuances of character could have been allowed to breathe through its breathless narrative, there are occasional patchy elements to some of the performances and occasionally some of the blocking and movement felt a little contrived, but this often happens when one person writes, directs and produces even when that person is a talent is as big as Glenn Chandler. But that’s nitpicking. More of a psychological thriller than a whodunit, it's a gripping, involving piece, full of atmosphere, exposition and humour. The opening comment from McBurney - he turns on the TV and guess which detective show is playing? Yes, Taggart - shows the confidence Chandler has in his own creations.

Billed as a whodunit, The Lamplighters is more than that - it’s a must-see it.

Nick Hennegan

Tickets for The Lamplighters which runs until 13 April are available from tel 0208 995 6035 or


March 29, 2013