Caught up in the weddings plans for one the village’s most dearly loved daughters, Sarah Fulton, the townsfolk of Waverton Magna aren’t happy to see Inspector Frost darken their doorstep once more, with a great deal of undesired baggage in tow. Having failed to solve the disappearance of the bride-to-be’s infant brother years earlier, Frost won’t leave until he’s solved the case that left a stain upon his life.
While the townsfolk insist that they’ve moved on, Frost refuses to let the matter lie. When he finally lets slip that new evidence may have come to light concerning this twelve-year-old cold case, it soon becomes obvious that this town is keeping something hidden just beneath its placid surface, in a Hot Fuzz “the greater good” kind of way.
As you can probably assume from a plot like this one, Cat’s Cradle is your typical British mystery-drama, full to the brim with the usual suspects of sleepy, small-town country life.
You have Peggy and Sam Fletcher (played by Caro Coltman and James Renaud), jovial owners of the local inn and pub, around which the town’s social life seems to orbit; Bob Marriott (played by Marco Pilic), the small-town journalist with higher aspirations; and, of course, Inspector Jack Frost (as portrayed by Douglas Cuff), the stubborn detective who’s just a month away from retirement, who’s committed to solving the case that tarnished his reputation before he allows himself to be put out to pasture.
Cuff does a wonderful job at portraying the curmudgeonly Frost, giving the audience a good look at a man who cares more for justice than social propriety, who has nothing to lose in the pursuit of truth and has a whole life to gain.
Opposing him in this regard is the man who has united the entire town, Sir Charles Cresswell (played by Martin Weeden), the benevolent man-behind-the-curtain, who has enough money and clout to get anyone to tow the line when he wants them to. Of course, when Frost refuses to let himself be bought, the gloves come off.
If the inspector isn’t careful, it becomes clear that he my find himself at the business end of the deadliest of British weapons: a formal complaint!
True to its heritage, Cat’s Cradle is full of that English dry wit that I absolutely love: the tongue-in-cheek comments, a certain bawdy sense of humour, the absurd sarcasm. While this isn’t a comedy, Cuff’s reactions to a town that isn’t afraid to let him know he isn’t wanted there provides a number of moments that will certainly have you quietly laughing to yourself.
The biggest problem with this production is that it’s good. It happily met all my expectations, doing all the things I wanted when I wanted them done, like a paperback mystery novel.
This isn’t a bad thing; I’m quite happy to be able to give this compliment. I just have a hard time separating it from from the slew of other British mystery-dramas that I’ve also enjoyed (i.e. A Touch of Frost, Midsommer Murders, Foyle’s War, everything by Agatha Christie).
While it didn’t necessarily bring a lot to the table that was new, it was a great portrayal of a genre that I thoroughly enjoy and gladly return to, time after time.
Granted, it was interesting to see the town’s conspiracy unraveling behind Frost’s back, leaving you wondering just how many people are complicit in the mystery surrounding this town. It encourages that sense of participatory mystery, well maintained by the actors on stage, giving you just enough information and clues to start asking your own questions.