Crime and Rhythm

Date 17th May 2019
Society Woodfield Entertainers
Venue Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall
Type of Production Play and concert
Director Tanya McArthur and Trudie Purdue
Musical Director Elaine Denny
Choreographer Amalee Gamache and Laura Hillier


Author: Jon Fox

An evening comprising two totally different halves made for an interesting evening's entertainment. The first half under the heading "Dig for Vengeance" (Crime) was a murder mystery play with a cast of eight. Act two (Rhythm) was a concert featuring well known songs from musicals, and pop songs too.

The play comprised three sections broadly involving a meet the chracters, enquiry and interviews and a song followed by the denouement of the murderer. Written by Patricia Gay, the play encompassed eight diverse characters. I found the acting of the eight players of somewhat mixed ability. The best of them all was the Rev'd Simeon Knatchbull, the Vicar and ultimately the murderer, played by Helen Baggs with convincing skill. One or two lacked vocal projection and spoke too quickly with insufficient clarity. It is the first duty of every actor to ensure that all the audience, even those at the back can clearly hear every syllable. Another I especially liked was Amalee Gamache playing the extrovert beautician Maisey Coggins.

The Detective, Jim Murray played by Gary Bates, certainly looked the part in his raincoat and hat - I assume the Columbo look was intentional - but as the opening character, more oomph was needed in his vocal delivery and clarity.

Laura Hillier, Cara Turner, Denise Hillier and Jake Brammer all did reasonably well as the Pub Landlady, Cleaner and  Gravedigger respectively, as did Edward Jardine as the victim's widower. Graham Thorburn as the Pub Landlord needed a number of prompts which detracted somewhat from his performance.

However, it was a well put together and interesting play which definitely held the audience's attention. Tanya McArthur who directed can feel satisfied with the overall standard, despite my adverse comments on one or two matters.

The second half comprised a concert of well-known songs together with sketches, directed by Trudie Purdue and musically directed by Elaine Denny, with choreography by Amalee Gamache & Laura Hillier all of whom did sterling work. I did much appreciate the generally well chosen, well sung and well constructed mix of songs and sketches.

MC Jan Cassar presided and introduced numbers. She opened the act with an apparently non scripted and somewhat rambling, though comic, duologue with a Scottish lady. My opinion was that this opening did not add much to the overall concept.

"Seasons of Love" was well harmonised and enjoyable; The "Weatherman" sketch was a keenly observed and a most amusing spoof of BBC weather forecasting; I greatly liked the classic Beach Boys "Good Vibrations", with two palm trees, excellent singing and harmonies - a real show highlight!; The Airhostess spoof sketch with shades of the famous John Cleese and two Ronnies "Upper, Middle, Lower" class sketch, but about various flying classes was also enacted with style and was a clear success.

Tim Waters sang "Fly me to the Moon" with a pleasantly melodious voice and suffered not at all with the inevitable comparison with Frank Sinatra. Well done Tim!

Amalee and Denise provided a humorous sketch entitled "The Doctor", where a girl was told she was, in fact a labrador and told to hop upon the couch "but I'm not allowed on the couch" was delivered with impeccable timing and was another successful sketch.

A wonderful conclusion to the evening was provided by Amalee, Denise, Tracey, Hannah, Cara, laura, Alison, Jake, Helen, Gary and Graham, who gave us a top class "Time Warp" from the iconic Rocky Horror Picture Show. This was an inspired choice with which to complete the show. Wonderful lighting with use of a glitter ball and with the audience willingly joining in the movements, together with "off the wall" wigs and costumes ensured a vibrant ending.

Lighting on the whole show was by Dominic Lawrence as was sound by Alex Willcocks, who also chose the music. Amalee and Cara Turner together with the cast were responsible for the suitable and appropriate costumes and all the aforementioned were satisfactory

MC Jan Cassar's amusing intros and patter between the various numbers added much to what was a most enjoyable evening. I applaud the mix of the evening's two acts and, despite a few adverse comments on the play's performance, Crime and Rhythm was a credit to the dedicated Woodfield Entertainers.