Be afraid. very afraid. Having toured Agatha Christie thrillers for a decade, The Classic Thriller Company turns its attention to Edgar Wallace - or “The King of the Modern Thriller” as he’s billed in the programme notes, although there’s little in this sorry enterprise to justify such a label.

The Case of the Frightened Lady is remarkable for (a) having absolutely no thrills whatsoever and (b) totally wasting a cast of familiar TV faces in roles that aren’t so much underwritten as hardly written

Director Roy Marsden’s direction is criminal. People are forever coming on stage through one door and exiting through another, Occasionally they say a few words that pass for dialogue. Butlers lurk. Maids scream. Posh people get very agitated. The audience tries to stay awake. Marsden has helpfully inserted loud claps of thunder at regular intervals to ensure no one sleeps.

Played for laughs, this might just work but Anthony Lampard’s new adaptation is no help at all, failing to recognise that people standing around speaking cliched dialogue does not count as a stage play.

The year is 1932 and someone is going around strangling people at Marks Priority, seat of the Lebanon family. This is very unsporting behaviour. Everyone behaves suspiciously, none more so than the butler whose robotic movements suggest they, like the dialogue, are not quite human.

I will not name the performers for fear of jeopardising future hopes of work. They are suffering enough having to perform the risible dialogue and heavy-handed plotting without having to worry about the future. Oh, by the way, I have no idea who the Frightened Lady is.

n Until Saturday. Box office 0844 8713024. Online atgtickets/york

Raymond Crisp