Murder in the Studio

Date 23rd January 2024
Society The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Venue The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Type of Production Play
Director John Chidgey
Written By Agatha Christie

Report

Author: Steph Niland

Amateur theatre plays a significant part in the cultural life of the nation. It encompasses varying styles of performances, breeds empathy and builds confidence and knowledge and an appreciation of the arts. It helps with both physical and mental health, not just for the performers and all taking part, but for audiences too. Youngsters involved, grow in confidence and self-esteem and older players get to exercise their mental and emotional muscles too.

Amateur theatre, in many smaller communities, is very often the hub of cultural activity as well as helping to bring communities together. The Green Room, Wilmslow is a champion of all these wonderful attributes of “am dram”.

The quality of productions this group presents is always top notch and they strive for interesting direction and stage management alongside the live action on stage.

Murder in the Studio is a trio of radio plays penned by the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie. Of the three offerings, the first and third were marginally more entertaining, perhaps due to the storylines, effects, music intertwined in the action or the structure, but all three were gently thrilling with some lovely “aha” moments and twists.

The Green Room transported us back in time to the golden age of radio and a genteel and refined evening of entertainment awaited. Clad in sumptuous evening gowns and dinner suits, the cast entered and as some recited the crime stories into standing mics, some of the remainder became foley artists, on stage which was fascinating to witness, and these lineups switched with the change of radio play. A fascinating concept. Even more charming is knowing that in fact, we were only seeing half of the ensemble involved in this production. There were 2 troops, Team Agatha and Team Christie. On Tuesday evening, we were entertained by Team Christie - approx. 15 performers.

The communal nature of the piece and the collective involved makes it hard to comment individually on cast members, however, there are a few names, who, on this viewing, stood out. Diana Boswell showed versatility and voice manipulation brilliantly, closing your eyes, one definitely pictured different characters as she spoke. Belinda Coghlan, also expertly rendered several convincing accents and character types and Melanie Davy was compelling to watch and listen to. Fred Donnan was a strong judge, great clarity meant we didn’t miss a word and Dominic Keefe had fun jumping dialect and accent hurdles and moving the narration on fabulously. As has been said, it is hard to pull individuals out in such a team event, and more portrayals come to mind as typing. But it is safe to say that John Chidgey directing this experienced gang, must have had his hands full of practiced and talented material and a lot of fun exploration must have occurred. Relying on story telling only and bare minimum of physicalisation, it counted heavily on intonation, inflection, accents, building tension through word and voice and creating atmospheres. Which much of this Christie Team did marvellously.  

An intriguing concept and a positive vehicle tending to the very important wants/needs/whims of its membership, Murder in the Studio was a decorous and gently scintillating way to spend an evening. One came away with the immersive sensations of steam train smoke in the nostrils, cocktail clinking in the ears and a Christie twist to chatter about on the journey home. Well done all.