PREPARE TO MEET THY TOMB

Date 2nd March 2022
Society Tyldesley Little Theatre
Venue Tyldesley Little Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Margaret Speakes
Written By Norman Robbins

Report

Author: Liz Hume-Dawson

PREPARE TO MEET THY TOMB - TYLDESLEY LITTLE THEATRE

Tyldesley Little Theatre welcome back audiences with the second production after Covid - a play. Before this commenced, we were treated to a slide show of photographs that were shown in 100 seconds of the Theatre’s missed centenary that was 1921 to 2021 - a nostalgic look at how far the Theatre has come - an accomplishment when they had over 30,000 (not a misprint!) shots to choose from

Margaret Speaks directs this comedy thriller - the curtains open to reveal the Monument House Hotel and Alternative Health Spa Garden Room. The dark red and brown set is striking with two large bookcases on the back wall (one of which is a secret passage), appropriate furniture with red chaise lounge centre stage and double doors stage left, window stage right with plush curtains falling to the floor. Set construction by Eddie Stanley, Michael Stanley and Laura Solski. Set decoration by Jo Hibbert, Margaret Speaks, Eddie Stanley, Danny Tooby and Paul Whur.

So! a comedy thriller about killing people and not just in the usual manner (if there is a usual manner!) - they were inventive and took pride in it. The death count was high - and I mean high - of the ten cast: only one is left standing at the end and it’s a surprise who it is - loved that reveal! The deaths were done well and although seated in the balcony, I could not see any movement from the ‘corpses’ and some were laid there for a while – convincing! All the characters were not as they appeared and no sooner had a person declared what they were up to they were gone - dead! There were some fluffed lines in places by one or two actors and I am not sure if this is down to being uncertain on lines and cues or the talking that I heard in the audience, as this may have caused a distraction (I was certainly distracted)?

Gemma Manfried as Drucilla Tomb and Hannah Boardman as Hecuba Tomb live at Monument House each with their own grudges – they are descendants of the Borgias - their motto ‘the family that plays together, slays together’ - what they don’t know about plants and herbs isn’t worth knowing – never accept a cup of tea from them! Adrian White as Sir Beverley Comstock was as brash and irritating as his character was meant to be, loved his line “why have Lemon and Cinnamon tea, what’s wrong with Typhoo?!”. . . I do wonder if he could have been dressed a little more grandly as a ‘Sir.’ We didn’t get to witness his death - only hear of it – he delivered some great lines. Lorraine Reynolds played Daphne Summers scared of everything and she did take a cup of tea that was her downfall - good characterisation and probably the only innocent one in this den of schemers - well played!

Ingrid Folkard-Evans playing Phillipa Collins certainly knows how to make an entrance, she brought in a gust of energy and we certainly had no idea what her plan was - her plot twists were great and played with such belief - even the maniacal laugh – what a character to get your teeth into, which she did! Good to see she didn’t get a meat cleaver in the back of her head - excellent!

Ian Hunter played Quentin Danesworth who was out to expose people for his own means and fame. Well, that did not happen - after his death they fell like flies. Karen Ward playing Miranda Torrence -  the actress who had changed her name and was just a voice for a puppet, was on honeymoon with Robert Sandbrooke, played by Cameron Rowe (who at one point was thought of as a murderer when really, he was anyway): this couple certainly were playing us. . .characterisation of one character and in Karen’s case voice too - then changing to something else was good. It’s great to have that reveal and they looked to be relishing their parts - well done! Cicely Venner played by Andrea Peters, who was secretly in cahoots with the honeymoon couple as well as Hecuba Tomb and knew Sir Beverley  by another name: do you remember the American TV series Soap? . . .every week at the beginning the voice over said used to say “Confused?. . . You will be!” and you were! . . . it reminded me of this - in a good way!

And finally, the tenth cast member who played a blinder - Connor Parkinson was Anthony Strickland, two very different characters, well-defined and the first part almost in the background as PA to Sir  Beverley. Near the beginning something was said and the look that flitted across his face, I thought oh right, is he up to something? but I forgot about it and that is testimony to his characterisation. So, when he revealed himself as the brother, his physicality changed. Great work Connor - showing the little details can make all the difference.

As with any production the work that goes on behind the scenes is immense and it is a compliment to Tyldesley Little Theatre that it is no mean feat to have been going 100 years - the passion is evident.

Thank you for inviting me and making my Hubby and I so welcome as usual.

 

Liz Hume-Dawson

District Rep 5