Date 9th February 2019
Society Inkberrow Players
Venue Inkberrow Village Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Tim Cole


Author: Andy Brown

It is always good to see newly written work especially when the author is also the director and therefore able to bring the written word to life on the stage.

Butchers written by Tim Cole was described as, ‘A Comedy Whodunit’ a description which fulfilled what we were about to see. It was also good to have a brief back story in the programme leading up to what was about to unfold.

Relatives are called to the family farm only to be informed John Cleaver has died with a piece of pie in his throat. His solicitor has a new will so who will benefit? Enter the police, who, following a telephone call announce that the death was due to foul play! The family solicitor is about to announce the contents of the will. What are the special conditions and who was responsible for John’s death?

Ian James was excellent as the accident prone, hapless and somewhat incompetent DI Bullock jumping to all the wrong conclusions. His dialogue, facial expressions and continual trip ups on a nail were totally believable and caused well deserved laughter from the audience.  His side kick was the rather pleasant and dedicated PC Downe played by Angela Webster. Between them was some clever word play using words up and down along with Downe. I am sure many of these scenes provided much enjoyment to the cast in rehearsal!

The remaining characters were more serious in their portrayal which was totally correct in order to bring out the full humour of this clever piece of writing. David Ballard looked and sounded like the ‘family solicitor’. Believable portrayals were brought to life by Gary Clubley as Sam Cleaver and Barbara Clubley as Ella Cleaver – it was as if they were a real married couple! They were well supported by other members of the Cleaver family namely Sarah Young as Ava Cleaver, Malcolm McGillivray as Harry Cleaver and John Leeson as Pete Cleaver. The family dynamics were certainly evident with these characters when searching for alibis. Somewhat outside the family (initially at least) was Melanie Hart as Lizzie Cleaver, the second wife of the departed John Cleaver. Melanie played the heartbroken widow for a matter of minutes before moving on, only to have a secret to share!

Outside the family were Keith Shanklin as Tim Tyrrell who seemed to have kept the whole business running. He was a delight as he appeared likely to inherit much of the family fortune along with Alison James as the suitably busybody neighbour Mrs Peabody who seemed to have free access to the house and saw a crime everywhere, she looked!

Having visited Inkberrow Players a few times now it has become evident members of the society work hard to provide a quality set. Once again, the set was effective. Many of the costumes were also good (if not rather loud to show the 1970’s!).  

Diction was generally good as was the positioning of characters on the set with good use of doors and props on the set. There were a few prompts in the second act and on occasions it was a bit evident some lines had gone astray but these were either well taken or covered by others and did not take anything away from the enjoyment of the piece.

For the Saturday afternoon performance, the hall was set up with tables and chairs for a promised afternoon tea during the interval. A plate full of sandwiches, pork pie (in keeping with the play) and crisps followed by a variety of delicious cakes were served to our table. In addition, a cup of tea with the choice of different strengths was much appreciated.

As for the next production, not sure if this is known at the moment but whatever it is I am sure it will be another enjoyable production from the welcoming and friendly Inkberrow Players.