Television: Almost as if Alfred Hitchcock presents…

Written By: Les Hull
Published: February 17, 2018 Last modified: February 17, 2018

Requiem,

BBC 1.

 

There is a certain kind of mystery thriller that conjures up Alfred Hitchcock; a particular type of story that he probably would have liked and might well have done himself if he were still with us. Requiem comes into that category.

Lydia Wilson plays Matilda Grey, not a police officer or a private eye but a cellist about to give a concert in London; someone in an occupation far removed from solving mysteries.

Before long, however, she is confronted with a huge challenge. Her mother Janice commits suicide in front of her in the most harrowing manner. Matilda subsequently finds a box of items on the mother’s bed relating to a young girl named Carys who went missing from a Welsh village 23 years earlier. Now Matilda takes on the role of investigator. With her friend and accompanist Hal Fine (Joel Fry) she heads off to Penllynith to find out how her mother might have been connected to the disappearance of Carys all those years ago.

There is a very effective travelling sequence as the amateur sleuths drive out of London and penetrate the dramatic Welsh landscape, going ever deeper into the bleak terrain of hills and mountains. The Hitchcockian sense of identification with the central characters is complete as we feel we’re making the journey with them in the car.

The pair’s arrival coincides with the funeral of the local bigwig landowner, Ewan Dean. He, it seems, took his own life the day before Janice killed herself – throwing himself off the roof of the ancestral home, having first smashed all the mirrors in the place.

Pretty soon Matilda and Hal get to know the heir to the estate, who has come over from Australia, and they accept his invitation to stay for a while at the big house – it being a spooky old pile and he being glad of the company. There they find more connections between the two suicides. Was the house once used as a place of confinement for poor Carys? And what lies behind the strange noises and shadowy figures we keep hearing and seeing?

As if to bear out the Hitchcock comparison, there is a shower scene in episode two. It doesn’t culminate in a shocking stabbing, but while the intrepid cellist stands under soothing jets of water, there is the suggestion of a presence lurking on the other side of the shower curtain.

There is a supernatural element to this tale, with ghost-like appearances of Janice, but, as you might expect, Matilda is also having her share of bad dreams and hallucinatory flashbacks.

This six-part drama is written by Kris Mrksa and looks well worth staying with to the end. Plaudits should also go to the excellent Mahalia Belo, the director of the piece in the absence of Alfred Hitchcock.