Snake In The Grass - Altrincham Little Theatre

IT takes a special writer to paint a picture of a character so vivid you feel you know him, you feel he or she is there on stage.

Of course that's impossible in this play, as Anabel and Miriam's father, by all accounts a horrible piece of work, is pushing up the daisies. But both his daughters, now grown up, are still nursing the psychological scars of a difficult upbringing.

Hats off to Alan Ayckbourn then, a writer whose brand of theatre, generally too middle class for me, usually leaves me cold.

Anabel, who managed to escape her despotic dad, returns from Australia to help Miriam, forever the victim, sort out his estate. Things get tricky when they are visited by his former nurse, Alice, who seems to be on a gold digging mission.

I say 'seems' as nothing is quite what it seems in this masterpiece of a play, which has elements of Ayckbourn's trademark and very clever humour and a dash or two of the supernatural. The twists at the end are certain to floor you and, unless you're blessed with ESP, you won't see them coming.

A three strong all female cast gels beautifully under the astute direction of Carla Stokes, with Cheryll Wyche (Anabel), Lisa Barker (Alice) and Victoria Johnson (Miriam) ensuring that you're completely transfixed by the increasingly strange events unfolding on stage. You never really know what's going to happen next and that's as tense as it is exciting.

* Until October 8. The box office is on 0161 928 1113. Star rating - ****