Melbourne Theatre Company’s Double Indemnity marks the international stage premiere of  Tom Holloways’ adaptation of the 1943 novel by James M Cain. This influential period thriller takes the audience into a world of steamy passion and desire based on a real life murder perpetrated in the 1920’s.

Wentworth actor Edwina Samuels plays Nettie – a woman who, according to Tom Holloway, is on the rise. “She is a hard working young lady who takes her job seriously, and she is good at it,” explains Samuels of her character. “I think it’s safe to say that Nettie is a bit of an underdog. A lot of her work is done behind the scenes, and she is not to be undermined. She’s quite cheeky, and seems to get away with it and she certainly doesn’t hold back from speaking her mind.”

Samuels admits to admiring Nettie’s work ethic and her confidence and her strength as a woman. “I’m hoping a lot of her qualities will have rubbed off on me by the end of the season.”

The novel was adapted into a film in 1944 starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson. Holloway’s exciting adaption has allowed for further story development  as well as an exploration into a by-gone era that still fascinates explains Samuels.

“It’s a fabulous play. I was immediately attracted to the character, Nettie, which Tom has ultimately developed from scratch. Tom’s adaption captures many of the parts of the novel that I found intriguing. I knew that this role would also be a challenge. On paper the role of Nettie may seem small, but as a person she is certainly not. I knew a lot of work would have to go into her back-story to make the character really come to life. I also find the decade of the 30’s a very interesting time. The characters in this play are living in a dark time in the aftermath of the Great Depression, and each have their individual drive to survive.”

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The play is complex and, says Samuels,  difficult to describe the plot line in a few sentences. “On the surface, it is a story about an everyday business ‘insurance’ man who falls in love with a woman, and together they carry out murder in an attempt to better their lives,” she explains. “When this fantasy turns into reality the darkness slowly creeps. Once murder is committed, there’s no going back. It ultimately raises the big question: how far would you go for love, for greed, out of need? ”

Samuels  favourite parts of the play are the scenes between Walter (Leon Ford) and Phyllis (Claire van der Boom), and the quick playful dialogue between them, which is brought to life so beautifully by both Leon and Claire.

“There is a beautiful balance of humour and honesty within the script, there is a perfect amount of lightness and darkness. Depending on your willingness to believe and desire to engage, you would be sure to walk out of this production feeling, at the very least, entertained.”

Double Indemnity

May 30 – July 2