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Review: Cadfael – The Virgin in the Ice @ Lichfield Garrick

With the dark nights creeping on, I reckon it’s time to sit back and enjoy an atmospheric thriller where sex, violence and a hint of the supernatural creepily collide. And if you agree you’re in for a treat as the popular Middle Ground Theatre Company unveil the world premiere of their latest audience-pleaser The Virgin in the Ice at the Garrick this week.

To celebrate their 25th season the company have chosen an Ellis Peters whodunnit featuring Christian crusader Cadfael, the monastic sleuth dedicated to solving some of the murkier mysteries of the Dark Age’s darkest hours.

There’s atmosphere aplenty in this international tale of crusader conquest and mistaken identities, and it’s set right here in the midlands – references to Shrewsbury, Worcester and Cleobury Mortimer abound. The main action takes place beneath the snowy slopes of Shropshire’s Clee Hills, wild even today, then a frontier land near the wild Welsh marches protected only by the stronghold at Ludlow. The bone-snapping cold of medieval winters is chillingly evoked in this multi-media production and the engaging plot unrolls with increasing tension thanks to a well-rehearsed cast.

Star of the show is Richard Walsh as Cadfael whose gravitas as the compassionate monk never allows the character to slip into pious sentimentality; this is a man who has seen the world and whose compassion doesn’t blind him to the fallible nature of humanity. He’s backed up by a lively cast playing a host of victims and villains, but special mention must go to Stephen Beckett (The Bill, Corrie, etc) for a lively second act performance as the swashbuckling crusader Alain Le Gauchier.

If you like some murky mystery, a bit of cut-throat action, atmospheric settings and a touching love interest get on down to the Garrick and you can forget all about the modern blood-letting at the party conferences.

Cadfael – The Virgin in the Ice runs in the Garrick main house until Saturday (October 5). For tickets phone the box office on 01543 412121 or go online at

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