Classic thriller hits Rugby Theatre stage

Lee Bunting and Lloyd Richards in the psychological thriller Rope
Lee Bunting and Lloyd Richards in the psychological thriller Rope

A thriller inspired by a notorious real-life crime is shocking and enthralling audiences at Rugby Theatre.

Rope tells the tale of a murder committed by two wealthy Oxford students who kidnap and kill a fellow undergraduate.

Patrick Hamilton’s classic psychological drama reveals how the pair hide the corpse in a chest in their house, and then throw a party in the same room – even inviting the father of their victim.

The story – which harks back to the shocking real-life murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago in 1924 by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb – was also made into an acclaimed Hollywood film directed by master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock.

Director Steve Orton said: “This is the second play I’ve directed by Patrick Hamilton – the first being Gaslight in 2010. His work is dark, and at the same time very clever – it contains interesting facets which seem to reveal quite a lot about the writer himself.”

“It’s certainly been a play that the actors have been able to really immerse themselves, exploring the complexities and motivations of the characters involved.”

Lloyd Richards returns to the Rugby Theatre stage for the production after a long absence. He plays the role of Rupert Cadell, played by James Stewart in the Hitchcock film, while Lee Bunting is the murderous Wyndham Brandon.

Lloyd said: “It’s nearly 30 years since my first appearance as Billy in Billy Liar, and a far cry from Danny Zuko in Grease which I also played in the late 1980s, but I’ve had a fabulous time with this piece.

“It has humour. It has poetry and it has some real emotional depth that will put goosebumps on your goosebumps.”

Rugby town ranger Lee was last seen as the womanising Mike in November 2013’s Blood Money, and says: “I’m thrilled to be in this world class thriller, and I can’t wait to get on the stage again.

“It’s hard to believe, but this is my 34th show at Rugby, but my passion for the theatre remains as strong as ever.”

The play opened on Saturday and runs until this Saturday (February 14). For more information, and to book tickets, go to