IT’S a mystery that can’t fail to capture your imagination - an enigmatic young woman turns up i1920’s Berlin claiming to be the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II.
She says she survived the bloodbath that claimed the lives of most of the Romanov family, their servants and their cohorts.
Then there was her daring escape, as the Russian revolution swept aside the old order that had ruled Russia for three centuries.
You simply couldn’t make it up, could you? Or could you? Is this lady really Anastasia Romanov, or a brilliant confidence trickster or simply suffering from delusions of grandeur. No pun intended.
Kathryn Fennell is at her captivating best as the character in question and I simply hung on her every word while she was on stage in Royce Ryton’s superbly crafted and thought-provoking and deeply engrossing play.
Malcolm Cooper is absolutely perfect for the role of the nice police inspector who takes this seemingly lost soul under his wing as the authorities probe every corner of her being in a bid to prove whether she’s a genuine Duchess or not.
This production is a major triumph for director Lisa Barker whose also made sure the rest of the cast, Stephen Moss, Christine Perry and Cherrill Wyche who treats us to a masterclass in versatility, playing somewhere in the region of 40 different parts, from well-meaning but baffled medical staff to an old school reporter.
At two hours and forty minutes it may sound like a long night. But in the company of a cast as gifted as this one I left the theatre feeling I’d only been in there for a matter of minutes.
I do hope this production cleans up at the next amateur theatre awards night. Prepare to be enthralled - and mightily impressed.
A must see.
Until March 23. The box office is on 0161 928 1113. Star rating - *****