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Murdered to Death

Date

15th May 2015

Society

Perryway Players & Livewire Amateur Dramatic Society

Venue

Cadbury Hall, Frampton on Severn

Type of Production

Play

Director

David Wheeler

Report

Author: Frankie Telford

This was my first visit to this Society and I looked forward to seeing this spoof on the writings of Agatha Christie. The venue was a multipurpose building with a stage at one end; it had been set out Café style with tables and chairs. The set, which was visible on entry into the Hall, was well designed and constructed with great attention to detail with the fireplace, French window and two practical doors, had been dressed with appropriate furniture and props and was well used throughout. Mostly the stage was well lit but there was an area down stage left, which left the actors in the dark, which was a pity as young Constable Thompkins spent a lot of time there and it was difficult to see his facial expressions. I do not know if this was because of the positioning of lights or the limitations of the Hall but the audience do like to see the faces of the actors. The sound effects were well coordinated. The costumes were well worn and appropriate, helping to create the various characters visually.

It had been decided to cast the play from a mixture of senior society members and the youth group, Livewire, which worked well. The youngsters rose to the challenged of playing characters beyond their years and were all very confident in their roles. The young people playing Elizabeth Hartley-Trumptington and Pierre Marceau had the most challenging roles as they had to establish two characters and two accents, the exaggerated French accent was lovely. All the others established their characters and maintained and developed them as the play progressed. Constable Thompkins was the voice of reason as Inspector Pratt lived up to his name. Joan Maple, with her knitting, had all the answers and was a thorn in Inspector Pratt’s flesh. Colonel Craddock was suitably pompous and Margaret his long suffering wife, was subdued at the start but changed as the play progressed and made some startling revelations towards the end. There was a good rapport between house owner Mildred and somewhat down trodden niece Dorothy, again Dorothy’s character develops in a surprising way. But for me the highlight of the evening was Bunting, the Butler, not the usual silent, well-mannered character doing his master’s bidding, but a totally different kettle of fish. The scene where he drinks himself into a stupor behind the sofa was superb.

I felt the play was under rehearsed and at times the pace was slow; not helped by the number of prompts needing to be taken. Obviously a great deal of hard work had gone into the production, and the audience was very forgiving and seemed to enjoy the evening.