Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

Date 20th November 2015
Society Double Act Drama Group
Venue Corfe Castle Village Hall
Type of Production Drama
Director Mike Spinney


Author: Sylvia Coates

As with many companies, Double Act’s cast were not quite as young as Wilde envisaged, but David Kemp was a commendable Lord Arthur: earnest, affable and gullible he carried the play with his sidekick, the solid, dependable, and rather jealous butler, Baines. Baines was convincingly and humorously portrayed by Peter Smith, leaving us in little doubt that he is the real master of the house. 

Lord Arthur is engaged to Sybil Merton, nicely played by Teresa Neal, who conveyed all the ladylike qualities expected in the late nineteenth century. Sybil’s formidable mother, Lady Julia Merton, was enthusiastically portrayed by Vivienne Gilmour-Cox, who introduces Savile to a palm-reader (Judith Jenkins) in order to detect his flaws. Lord Arthur, Sybil and Baines embark on a frenzy of ill-fated attempted killings, in order to fulfil a prophecy before the wedding takes place, and on the whole these were portrayed with energy and enthusiasm.

Jo Salisbury flung herself admirably into the role of Herr Winkelkopf, an anarchist, but had she been allowed to play Frau Winkelkopf instead, she may have found the stronger, more menacing aspects easier to convey.

This was an enjoyable evening, but some judicious cutting would have been welcome. The prompt was kept busy and seemed to read more lines than some of the ladies could remember, which impinged greatly on the progress of the second act. It is always a challenge to stage a classic play in the time available, and perhaps next time another week or two of rehearsal would be beneficial.

The set, with its beautifully-painted books and doors was just right for the period. There were some imaginative touches, such as the front-of-house announcements being made by the housekeeper and to have a pianist playing in the auditorium was charming, instantly creating the sound and atmosphere of the time.