The Return of Inspector Garbutt
7th November 2012
Stopsley High School, Luton
Type of Production
Author: Nova Horley
St Andrews certainly gave us food for thought in more ways than one. The Jubilee Fantasia set sail, and the Captain was murdered – so all we had to do was find the murderer during the course of the evening, taking note of the many and various clues. The audience were also provided with a very nice buffet during the interval! Well done to Pam and Rodney Mills. Terry Mills had again written a fun show, with lost of twists and turns – there were a few drops in pace where words were not always forthcoming – but no matter, we got there in the end. The cruise feel started directly we walked in the door, when we were greeted by members of the Entertainment Crew, had photos taken with the Captain, and were accosted by other so-called guests, who later had a role to play in the outcome. It was nice piece of escapism for a drear night – with plenty of energy and jollity – plus some anger thrown in from various crew members and passengers. Lots of red herrings, and some decent music. The scene was set on board the ship – which created a seamless show, with just a short blackout to define when we were going back to see the actual event that the witnesses were talking about. A hirsute and elegant Mr Roy Hall played the part of the Captain, and I am pleased to have a photo with him for posterity, as that was the only time we saw him, as his murder took place at the beginning of the show. I liked the opening number, and subsequent song and dance number from the Entertainment girls and boys, - a butch and angry young man played by Andrew Alton and a rather camp young man played by Jonny Mills – both good characterisations and good contrasts. The girls looked lovely in their pink spotted skirts, with extreme but stunning hairdo's – and they performed really well, showing first-rate dance talent with very good choreography from Jo Harris – the tap number was extremely accomplished. It really was a motley crew – from very ebullient sailors with broad South American accents, to more reticent very English ladies – and it appeared that nearly all the ladies had been involved with the Captain in one way and another. I thought the costumes were very well-thought out. Frances Hall, as Sybil the wife of Inspector Garbutt (played by Steve Peters), looked absolutely lovely, and acted the part of the slightly interfering and definitely very interested and observant passenger very well. Steve gave the Inspector gravitas, but also showed that he was sometimes perplexed by the turn of events, until Sybil kindly pointed him in the right direction. There were lively and lovely musical moments – I particularly liked Jo Yirrell's contribution, and the accompaniment to her solo was really beautiful. The passengers played by Barbara Storey as the Captain's ex-wife, and Sharon Robinson as her companion, created colourful characters. The trio of young ladies who were waitresses and stewards interacted well, and I thought Abbi Mead sang a difficult song with feeling. Jordan Stowe only had a short piece of dialogue, but he showed great expression and understanding of the situation he was in, having lied to the Inspector and then being found out. This was never going to be an evening of high drama – but it was a pleasant interlude with some nice performances, cheery music and enough intrigue to keep us guessing almost until the end. A good and entertaining ensemble piece with interesting performances.