A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody

Date 23rd April 2016
Society Trowbridge Players
Venue The Arc Theatre, Trowbridge
Type of Production Murder Mystery play
Director Charlotte Davis
Musical Director -
Choreographer -

Report

Author: Dee Way in place of Petra Schofield

The play was the result of a writers group working in 1991 and is an American comedy spoof of the murder mystery genre. It was first produced in Michigan and spins the tale of a wealthy man, Matthew, who wants to murder his wife, Julia. This is openly discussed while they make their New Year’s resolutions: he to murder her, and she to thwart him, during the following year. The script was good and gave plenty of opportunity to play up the farcical side of the tale. It also had plenty of mystery, as many other people were reported murdered during the year, but not Julia.

As the era was the mid-1970s in America, there was some nice set dressing, such as the festoon on the mantelpiece, making the setting clear in period and place. This was enhanced by the servants changing the set dressing as time passed. The set reflected the period well, with two wooden glass-fronted cupboards, a drinks cabinet and an all-purpose storage cupboard. The large rug on the floor gave a homely and authentic look to the stage, while the smaller white rug was present as part of the plot. The white settee and chair with red and white cushions all helped to confirm the period feel. The fire surround was magnificent, and I liked the way the fire was alight only at times.

The direction, by Charlotte Davis, included a lot of business, such as switching whisky glasses, pouring drinks and ‘poisoning’ them, along with many other schemes, which must have been fun to rehearse. The direction ensured that the action was continuous, with waves of hilarity and waves of more subtle comedy. The three doors into the ‘library’ were good – although there were no books there – and the glass door out to the swimming pool worked very well. The dressing of the set, with Christmas tree and strings of lights for New Year, removed for other times, was a good idea.

The costumes were appropriate, with party and daytime clothes well reflecting the characters’ personalities. Buttram, the butler, dressed in tailcoat and waistcoat had the air of an Agatha Christie character. The lighting was good, giving focus to the events portrayed, while the sound – mainly a large explosion – was very effective. The performances were good, although at times I felt that some lacked a little energy.  

Overall it was a fun evening and formed very good entertainment.