|Date||12th July 2019|
|Venue||Barton-le-Clay Village Hall|
|Type of Production||Play|
Author: Richard Fitt
On a hot steamy night a full house packed into Barton-le-Clay village hall to see the latest offering by Barton Players, Corpse by Gerald Moon. I have to say I have not heard of this play before and it’s always a great treat to see something a little different and out of the ordinary. Directed by Kirsty Badham and set on the eve of the Edward VIII abdication in 1936, basically this is a black comedy about identical twin brothers who are at different ends of the spectrum financially, where one is a successful businessman and entrepreneur and the other is a penniless out of work actor, who plans to murder his more successful sibling and swap places with him. Part farce and part whodunit, with so many plot twists and turns, it’s not so much a whodunit, as a who does what to whom and when. It’s only a four hander (well, five, if you count the body double) and requires a considerable skill to pull it off at the pace required to keep the audience attention, which I hasten to add Barton Players did admirably.
As one has come to expect from Barton Players the stage setting by Keith Bowie was absolutely first rate. The stage was divided into two separate apartments, depicting the run-down rented room of the actor twin and the rather more up market living room of his more affluent brother. The former being a bed, a wardrobe, table and chair, bureau and even a little cooking area. The later contained a neat desk with chair a trick hat stand that caused a very clever drinks cabinet to appear which (spoiler alert) became somewhat crucial to the plot.
That man Keith Bowie again then lit the whole stage with incredible precision, so when one apartment was lit the other was in almost total darkness, very much forcing the audience to forget its existence. Even the tone of the lighting emphasised drabness to affluence exceptionally well.
The properties department certainly went to town dressing the stage under the guidance of Rachael Bowie and Mr Jason Wolfe Esq – Theatrical Curios and Cutlery Inc., with neat touches all across the set. It was all extremely well dressed with clutter including for example, suitcases and a top hat on top of the wardrobe.
With sound by Adam Bowie the whole stage was extremely well managed by Hayley Bloodworth with Katie Westwick.
The costumes by Ann Holloway were also very well picked for the 30’s period depicted. The opening scene with Evelyn dressed in drag was a wonderful example even down to the stockings and suspender belt, much to the merriment of the appreciative audience.
What can one say about the tour de force that is Keith Badham, once again appearing in a lead role for the Players, or should I say two lead roles, playing both Evelyn and Rupert Farrant. Apart from a mammoth task of actually remembering the lines in a play where he is hardly ever off the stage he created the separate characters, the embittered Evelyn and the smug Rupert then, as the script progressed, fooled us in trying to work out which one was which. Very funny, very clever, very confusing!! The very definition of carrying a play. Good job as per usual.
Mick George, another stalwart of the Players put on a credible Irish accent to play the hapless would be killer Major Powell, completely outwitted by the devious Evelyn. Nervous, erratic and at times somewhat dim and only driven by the thought of the £10,000 pay off. He played the foil to Evelyn’s plan very well indeed. Who will forget the attempt to eliminate fingerprints by touching everything on the set in his panic to cover his tracks. And some well delivered Irish humour to add icing to the cake.
The first thing you noticed about Gill George as Mrs McGee was how incredibly authentic she looked as a 1930’s landlady. Aside from the spot-on wardrobe, her makeup and hair were absolutely perfect down to the red rouge on her cheeks. He deportment and manner as the frustrated, interfering, put upon, lonely widow seeking a relationship was well contrasted to the scheming Evelyn who treated her with some contempt and a bit of nuisance.
Alan Baldwin completed this splendid foursome as Hawkins, a typical Mr Plod with all the mannerisms of a beat copper one used to associate with daily life of this bygone era. A lovely little cameo.
Finally, a little mention of the body double, who although uncredited in the programme did take a bow. Nice job, but good luck with the laundry!
Thank you Barton Players for firstly keeping me awake on this hot steamy night in what could easily have been trial by lack of air, but Kirsty Badham’s direction kept the pace rolling along and our concentration from wandering with this pacey, comic thriller that was well acted and well delivered. Obviously, a lot of thought and rehearsal time had gone into this production and as I was told the stage crew, due to a booking mix-up couldn’t get into the hall last weekend I take my hat off to the almost faultless result. Good job one and all. And thank you once again for your warm hospitality, always a pleasure to visit.