Inspector Drake and the Black Widow

Date 15th October 2021
Society Stevenage Lytton Players
Venue The Lytton Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Allie Neal

Report

Author: Vicki Avery

How lovely it was to be back at the Lytton Theatre after such a long time being starved of real theatre. I felt safe and comfortable in this small bijou theatre and ready to enjoy my evening. I was not disappointed.

Once again the audience were given a night of entertainment with the performance of Inspector Drake and the Black Widow. Originally a three hander, on this occasion the director, Allie Neal, made the decision to include a fourth and I fully agree with her decision. As the title suggests the Inspector is called to solve the murder of a wealthy man and the ongoing disappearance of Sergeant Plod's pet spider.

The set was well designed and realized by Nick D’Arcy and his team, with the French doors at the side giving a stately feel to the room. Given the size of the theatre the set worked perfectly. The costumes were for the most part in keeping with the time-period of the performance and worked well. The lighting was precise and well conducted by Lucy Stallard, with sound following suit with excellent timing by Andrew Lee.

The story opens with Sergeant Plod introducing the case along with his pet arachnid to the audience. The part, performed by Tom Beirne, was executed with wit, comedy, and soul. Through his many monologues progressing the story, his character never faltered. Physical movements and facial expressions were a masterclass in stylized characterization. 

Arriving on stage in a cardboard box, Inspector Drake played by Tom Bright starts to solve the case. Tom’s performance of the role was accomplished superbly. He was a perfect counterpart to Tom Beirne and between the two of them they were great. I was also impressed by their improvisation skills.

The maid, played by Sharon Curtis, was amusing to watch. Sharon's characterisation and performance were terrific, and I’d expect nothing less from her. Later on she performed as the doctor and once again proved her ability to perform any role with ease. In all Sharon played four different characters, each one being clearly defined from each other.

Amy Mallard was played by Georgia Vary, who characterised the role perfectly. She was alluring, sexy and exactly what you would expect from the character. Her untimely death was well performed, adding more comedy to the scene. “The triplets”, also played by Georgia, was very amusing to watch. The addition of Tom Berine performing as one of the triplets, which later became twins as he had to resume his role as Sgt Plod, added to the comedic nature of the character. Georgia performed the part brilliantly and I was very impressed with her performance throughout.

Georgina also played Lady Devonshire showing impressive wheelchair skills and performed an interesting light-saber fight with Inspector Drake. Although not in keeping with the time -period (this is down to the script and not the director’s choice) in which the action is set, it gave an interesting and very humorous scene to the performance.

This was a tour de force for the actors and a credit to them all, not forgetting a further team handling more than 90 props and 50 sound cues. 

Overall, the performance was enjoyable to watch and a barrel of laughs. The Stevenage Lytton Players once again proved you do not need to perform in a big venue or on a big stage to provide an audience with a night of entertainment comedy and humour. 

Congratulations to you all.

Vicki Avery District 9