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Snake In The Grass - Theatre Royal Nottingham Review

Reviewed by Mark Johnson

Disclaimer - ticket was gifted in return for an honest review

Tabs Productions round off their 2023 Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season at Nottingham's Theatre Royal with a production of Alan Ayckbourn's Snake In The Grass but does the season end of a high?

Sarah Wynne Kordas (Alice), Susan Earnshaw (Miriam) and Karen Henson (Annabel). Photo by Simon Marper

Ayckbourn's 2002 play follows the Chester sisters, as long-estranged middle-aged sister Annabel returns home after the death of their abusive father only to be caught up in a plot involving blackmail which quickly escalates. 

The first act labours through the two bickering sisters' relationship, with neither becoming characters you can warm to, although both are well portrayed throughout by Karen Henson and Susan Earnshaw. Things do get a little more interesting when the slightly creepy nurse, played by Sarah Wynn Kordas is involved. Thankfully the second act does add a little more tension and things ramp up towards an interesting climax. 

Sarah Wynn Kordas's set design is visually impressive from the get-go. The varied use of the stage is clever, with scenery and props. It cleverly helps create mystery and edge with the use of different sections including the tennis court and the trap door. Lighting by Michael Donoghue and sound by David Gilbrook add to the feel, especially in the darker second half which is set in the small hours of the morning. 

Karen Henson cleverly portrays Annabel, weaving through the plot well, constantly haunted by a ghostly presence in the tennis court, she plays the fear particularly well. Susan Earnshaw is great at delivering black comedy and rounds the character well as Miriam. Sarah Wynne Kordas makes a great impact with an air of uncertainty to nurse Alice.

Snake In The Grass has potential but I don't think the strands that could have been explored in the text developed and ultimately left me a little disappointed. The strong performances and excellent set design are commendable and manage to keep the production afloat. 

Snake In The Grass plays at Nottingham's Theatre Royal until Saturday 26th August. Tickets are available from

Karen Henson (Annabel) and Susan Earnshaw (Miriam). Photo by Simon Marper.

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