The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society - Murder at Checkmate Manor

Date 13th February 2020
Society Windmill Players
Venue The Thornton Little Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Di Timmins


Author: Chris Higgins

Tonight’s visit is at Thornton Little Theatre and was to see the Windmill Players murder mystery play - The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Town Women’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery -  Murder at Checkmate Manor.  

This comedy, written by David McGilivray and Walter Zerlin Jr. was a really fantastic production.  With a cast of just five performers, they worked very hard throughout the evening to pull off a slick and extremely entertaining performance.  The set design and construction was very cleverly put together by Ian Flynn, David Thompson, Alan Waterfield and Peter Brown .  To build a robust set that, at the right time, falls apart as part of the performance really is a difficult task, but the construction of this set was absolutely first class and gave a fantastic backdrop to strong comedic acting of the small cast.  I have seen a number of Windmill Players productions and this is the first time I have seen something with true comedy. I would like to mention how impressed I was with the cast and the delivery of this piece. The comedic timing was absolutely on point, I was also very impressed with the direction given by Di Timmins - fantastic ideas and a clever use of timing throughout the whole script delivery.

Judi Adams, playing a multitude of characters, delivered her script with pinpoint timing, fantastic characters and a wonderful array of accents. Her big death scene at the end, clearly well rehearsed and vital to the whole performance - well done. Jackie Rhodes played again a number of roles and impressed the audience with fantastic facial acting both during her own line delivery and when reacting to the other characters.  Her ability to play characters within a character showed a performance that was strong and was very entertaining indeed. Anne George gave a fantastic performance, again with multiple characters, and her physicality in the roles really was very impressive. The most entertaining performance on this occasion, for me, was by Dorothy Evans who played again many roles but mainly Pawn the Butler -  a quick spoiler, she ended up committing the crime. The part where she missed a chance to do the big death scene very cleverly written and the delivery reminded me of something between Frank Spencer and Brains from Thunderbirds, which was to me very entertaining as well as to many of the other audience members based on the belly laughs coming from all around me.  The only male performer on stage tonight was Mark Edmonds who battled really well with a cold to deliver his script very well, at times, Mark was struggling to project but I was sat in the back row and could just about hear every word. Well done, Mark, your hard work paid off. The props were absolutely fantastic and Marjorie Brown and David Thompson should feel very proud of the props designed and used and for ensuring that this very prop heavy play was nailed.  The costumes by Angela Hudson and Denise Flynn were perfect and the fashion show extremely entertaining.  

All in all, this performance really was some of the best I’ve seen in my time as rep.  The timing of script and the characterisation of the actors was absolutely spot-on.   The script writing was very clever but you can’t have a great performance with a good script alone, it needs the correct delivery and this was certainly that.   The audience were suitably impressed with the performance with people discussing it after the final curtain.  Lots of great comments being shared in the foyer whilst I was leaving.

Have a successful performance of this extremely funny script, well done Windmill Players and I look forward to seeing the next production.