Drawn into dark world by fete

PUBLISHED: 11:22 17 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:56 16 June 2010

This spring, Theatre Alibi teams up with Exeter Northcott and Oxford Playhouse to bring Graham Greene s thriller The Ministry of Fear to the stage for the first time.

This spring, Theatre Alibi teams up with Exeter Northcott and Oxford Playhouse to bring Graham Greene's thriller The Ministry of Fear to the stage for the first time.

Running from Friday, February 26, to Saturday, March 6, at the Exeter Northcott, this fast-paced new production has a powerful whiff of Hitchcock and echoes of film noir classic The Third Man.

In London, during World War II, Arthur Rowe innocently wins a cake at a garden fête. Little does he know it contains something intended for someone else that draws him into a dark world of espionage and intrigue.

Theatre Alibi have turned this most dramatic of stories into a powerful piece of theatre with a strong cast, an atmospheric live score for double bass and sax and a stunning set and lighting inspired by the bombed-out wreckage of London during the Blitz.

Daniel Jamieson, who has adapted Greene's novel for Theatre Alibi, believes The Ministry of Fear is a sophisticated thriller that blurs the boundary between high art and popular entertainment.

He said: "Graham Greene separated his novels into 'entertainments' and more serious works. He classed The Ministry of Fear as an 'entertainment'. But, perhaps more than any other of his novels, this one lies somewhere between the two. On one level it's a cracking spy story. But there's also wicked humour - only in a Graham Greene novel would the hero be drawn into a sinister plot through guessing the weight of a fruit cake at a garden fete!"

Theatre Alibi artistic director Nikki Sved said: "With The Ministry of Fear we're using a stunning sculptural set by Trina Bramman to create the many worlds evoked in the story. A church fête, a sanatorium, a séance and a bomb shelter are just some of the locations.

"The piece tips its hat to the aesthetic of films like The Third Man with its moody use of light and dark and skewed perspectives.

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