Natural Causes

Date 29th April 2022
Society Wymondham Players
Venue Central Hall, Wymondham
Type of Production Play
Director Tabi Paternoster
Producer Frances Harrod


Author: Susan DuPont

Originally scheduled for 3 weeks after the original lockdown, hence postponed, it is ironical that the final production date turned out 2 years on, a week after the author Eric Chappell died. A really black comedy, and giving undertones of ‘Rising Damp’ feel in some characters, a lot of twists and turns in the rather macabre story, and in spite of this, a very funny production which seems a strange thing to say about suicide (or possibly murder) pacts and plots with many twists and ramifications, a tight production in the hands of Tabi Paternoster.

She managed to persuade her husband David out of staging retirement to build one of his excellent box sets, well designed and furnished, certainly a worthy setting for an excellent play.

Amazingly, two years on, the same cast was available to re-learn the lines and moves, only a fairly small break out for covid time, and certainly the casting was ideal for the plot.

Martin Drummond as Vincent appeared with his strange qualifications for ‘exodus’ and was the central ‘black’ character, his style and appearance so good in this macabre role, was he really there to implement death of a wanting suicide with his plant essence (colourless and odourless and leaving no traces of poison), his reactions to each person encountered really quite devious and bringing the various possible plots almost to realisation, a really excellent character study and great depth to the role. Loved his ‘left school at 14, lack of education’ pleas to serve his case (always brought laughter at each reprise). And he worked his magic throughout the plot with his many tries for the poison bottle.

Husband Walter Bryce from Alan Carpenter another strong character role, he wanted to assist in the desired suicide of depressive wife to suit his affair with secretary Becky Davis but did not want to look involved and did not desire to join her in suicide pact. His reactions with Vincent very tight in dialogue and feelings, a strong relationship.

Celia Bryce from Amanda Oelrichs, who had summoned help from Vincent, a great stage and scene stealer as she wanted to control joint suicide with husband, good rapport and manipulation, but was her condition real? The group showed many twists with drinks and poison, but what was the final situation especially when passing out and removed into the garden covered with a plastic tablecloth (another good laughter situation when she returned)

And a good cameo with comedy timing from Davis Percival as the man from Samaritans, who is also ‘played with’ by Vincent with his suggestions of his family life.

A lot of coming and going in the poisoning death stakes, how many glasses of sherry were or were not consumed, with or without poison, the cheese plant definitely looked sad with doses, who really will die, if anyone, and what will happen, very tight in moods and moves. I had not seen the play before so was surprised by the ending, very satisfactory