Dangerous Corner, Priestley’s first solo effort for the theater, was written in only one week to prove a novelist could write a play. He demonstrated a talent for developing the interesting characters and intriguing situations required for suspense drama and added a unique time twist that resulted in the play’s continuing success on stage.
In the British version(the play was “laundered” and given an American context for Broadway), Dangerous Corner opens with the timeworn theatrical device of a shot in the dark and a woman’s scream. When the lights come up it is revealed that there is no murder. A group of women have been listening to a radio drama and discussing the program’s title, “The Sleeping Dog.” Priestley believed that analogies should be clear, that there should be no question about the meaning of an author’s symbols. Truth is the sleeping dog that they should let lie, specifically the truth regarding the mysterious suicide of Freda’s brother-in-law, Martin. When the men join the group, Stanton agrees that the truth is often as healthy as speeding too fast around a corner. “And,” Freda declares, “life’s got a lot of dangerous corners.”
Like most suspense plays, the success of Dangerous Corner results from the ingeniousness of the situation, the cleverness of the resolution, and an unexpected twist at the play’s climax. With the philosophical foundation laid, the characters...
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