"Right now Bertie Carvel is my favourite actor in the world."So says The Spectator's theatre critic Lloyd Evans of Carvel's performance as Rupert Cadell in the Almeida's revival of "Rope", Patrick Hamilton's hit play from the late 20s. I'd never heard of Carvel until Thursday night. Now I'm prepared to add my voice to Evans's.
It's not accurate to call "Rope" a murder mystery because we know whodunnit from the start. The tension comes from the question of whether Cadell will work out what's happened and, given his terrible war injuries, bring the culprits to book. Snob, aesthete, moralist, war hero and heroic drinker ("I wonder if I might have another spot"), Cadell as delivered by Bertie Carvel is a riot of physical tics and strangely mannered speech. When he speaks you lean forward, much as you would if you were in the room with him. I've never been in a room with anyone like Rupert Cadell but Carvel makes me believe that I have been. This is a very rare gift.
When he's got a knighthood and is wasting his talent playing Moses in some computer-generated nonsense based on a comic I'll be able to say I saw Bertie in his pomp.