Set is wow factor in a weak farce
The Chipstead Players, Courtyard Theatre. Reviewed by Theo Spring
T he wow factor for this show was certainly achieved as the curtains opened to reveal Nick Gane's excellent 1930s set design brought to life by Mel Morgan and his construction crew and dressed by Clare Sparshatt and Roz Hayes.
There is an inheritance at stake and red herrings galore in this comedy whodunnit with, of course, characters not who they seem to be.
Lauren Milsom as Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington changed her debutante accent to cockney at the flick of a switch and Noel Harris followed suit with a similar change from a good French accent.
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To solve the crimes the script provides a sensible constable (Michael Rahman) and Inspector Pratt, constantly troubled with malapropisms. Mel Morgan played him in an OTT John Cleese-style which I found quickly grated.
There is a butler to suspect – Bunting – and I give full marks to Don Hindle's drunk butler scene and his comic timing. Niece Dorothy and her aunt Mildred seem devoted with Lesley Parker revealing a scam as the niece and Pat Thompsett not quite so prim and proper as first thought as the aunt.
More deception comes from Col Craddock with Mike Strong blustering and boozing his way through the play, married to Margaret, whom Eve Manghani kept upright, prim and proper.
Unravelling the murder, unlike her knitting, Jan Robinson played Joan Maple in best Miss Marple mode, replicating her voice and mannerisms and, of course, solving the crime.
Light and rather wishy-washy, Will Harris' direction brought the play to border on a rather weak farce at times, mostly brought about by the antics of the well-named Inspector Pratt.
Audience reaction was, however, good, and you can't please all the people all the time!