Mystery of Edwin Drood

Date 6th December 2014
Society Battle Amateur Theatrical Society
Venue Battle Memorial Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Sheila Crighton
Musical Director Duncan Reid
Choreographer Alison Campion

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

~~Drood is based on Dickens’s unfinished novel having various endings according to audience voting, is multi-layered requiring full concentration. At London’s Music Hall Royale, the resident troupe is preparing to open ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’. Actors interact, and the Chairman explains proceedings.  ‘There You Are’ is performed and introduces various extraordinary characters combining pantomime and music hall melodrama.  Firstly, respectable music tutor John Jasper – with an addiction to opium.  Edwin his nephew, played by a female is betrothed to lovely Rosa Bud, though they have misgivings. Jasper has composed Rosa a birthday song and on hearing the lyrics promptly faints. Accompanying Rev. Crisparkle, are Ceylonese twins Neville and Helena Landless - Neville taking a fancy to Rosa.  Introduced to Edwin they discuss an idea of paving a road from stones of the Egyptian pyramids. Next gruesome gravedigger Durdles, and his Deputy are preparing the Mayor’s departed wife’s tomb with the Mayor now being played by the Chairman - the original actor being too drunk.  We encounter Princess Puffer, opium den Madame later discovered as Rosa’s old nanny. It’s Christmas time at Jasper’s house and all is not happy, and ‘No Good Can Come From Bad’ is sung. Edwin leaves, disappears and the following day, Bazzard (Rev’s assistant) finds Jasper’s bloodied coat borrowed by Neville now chief suspect, but there is no body! Six months elapse and Datchery appears with Puffer to investigate. With revelations from all, the audience must decide, but so many red herrings – Who is the murderer? Was it committed? Drood reappears with ‘The Writing on the Wall’ - the mystery is solved, the troupe takes bows. Duncan Reid took on the musical challenge steering well sung solos, duets and company pieces. The beautifully designed set was constructed by Brian, Lee and Richard, well painted by Hannastina and Kerry, with the grand stairway devised by Colin Pilbeam and Tessa Bishop. Libby Montagu and team ensured a well attired cast.  Drood most dapper, great Sherlock-type disguise, the Rev’s gas and gaiters, saucy ladies, dancers’ red drawers, Rosa typical Victorian lady, rough gravedigger and stunning Ceylonese costume for elegant Helena. Wonderful ladies hairdos from Frances Horne, with strategically balanced, I suppose you might call them fascinators? Gary Crawford was responsible for sound and lighting.  A huge challenge for Sheila who did an admirable job and together with choreography by Alison, and MD Duncan resulted in a well rehearsed, well sung and polished performance. Credit to Chairman Paul Goring also doubling as Mayor Thomas Sapsea.  Alex Roberts played besotted Jasper, with Keren Keeler-Moore in good voice as Edwin, Dachery and Miss Alice Nutting male impersonator! Natasha Lampert-Montier was a strong, elegant Helena well supported by Lee Lyons her twin Neville. Tim Gordon cockney Durdles teamed with spritely Olivia-Jayne Bannock as Deputy.  Natasha Dallaway played Rosa the perfect English Rose singing ‘Moonfall’ with Don Young playing the smitten Reverend quite convincingly.  Ailsa Vinson a super Princess Puffer had several good numbers including ‘The Wages Of Sin’. Wanna make it in show biz Philip Bax playing Bazzard was nicely interpreted by Adrian Collins with ‘Never the Luck’ and together with raucous ensemble work including ‘Off To The Races’,  good dance routines the mystery concluded and I got it completely wrong!!