Review: Death Toll, Buxton Opera House

Murder is easy – it’s getting away with it that’s more difficult, says a character in James Cawood’s Death Toll.

The same could be said for penning a successful thriller. Dreaming up the plot is the fun bit; making it plausible enough to keep an audience enthralled is altogether much tougher.

Cawood manages to pull it off thanks to more twists and turns than an alpine mountain track and some cracking one-liners.

The black comedy staged at Buxton Opera House this week by Talking Scarlet is a great evening’s entertainment packed with treachery, subterfuge and some edge-of-your-seat moments.

There will be no spoilers in this review but a clue to what you can expect are the health and safety posters on the way into the auditorium warning you of gunfire during the performance.

The action takes place in a desolate former shooting lodge next to a loch in the Scottish Highlands where thriller playwright Henry Roth, played by Tom Butcher, lives with his trophy wife, former alcoholic, Evelyn played by Corrinne Wicks.

It hots up with the arrival on a stormy night of a young actor Jack, Mark Martin, who is seeking a role in a new play Henry has written.

The last character to arrive after the interval is Detective Chief Inspector Lazan, Jolyon Young, so you can probably guess what might have happened before the curtain came down on the first half.

The play was directed by David Janson, the designer was Geoff Gilder, lighting was by David North and the stage manager was Alyssa Tuck.

The play can be seen at Buxton until August 13.

Talking Scarlet return to the Opera House with a production of Jekyll and Hyde from August 15-19. For tickets go to

Amanda Penman