Murdered To Death

PUBLISHED: 17:05 26 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:39 20 February 2013

Murdered To Death

Murdered To Death

A play by Peter Gordon, performed by The Godney Amateur Dramatics Society.

Review by Bert Brookes. Photo by Carol Pennycott

In this latest, well attended Godney Amateur Dramatic Society (GADS) production, Peter Gordons play, which is set in the 1930s, is performed with great gusto as shots are fired, characters are killed off and mysteries unravel and we are kept guessing to the end, in true murder mystery style.

With this GADS production, what could have been just a bit of light hearted fun, holds the audience as they are as intrigued by the 'whodunit' aspect as they are delighted to be laughing along with the jokes. It is great credit to Rob Best, directing a GADS production for the 9th time, that the Company pulled this off and in particular to his clever casting which sees a host of local characters playing parts which are enhancements of their normal persona, making them believable and comic.

The evening starts with the initial scene-setting as the anxious and doomed Mildred (Elaine Nichols) and her niece Dorothy (Charlie Munday) await their weekend guests. The characters are well drawn as gentle jokes between the two about the slow and incapable butler set up the entrance that picks up the pace. John Deeley clearly revels in playing Bunting the butler, squiffy on sherry and always lurking around in a suspicious manner.

The four dinner guests arrive with firstly the crusty Colonel Craddock played by Tony Hunt with loads of bluster and some touching moments and Nicky Brookes who is convincing as his at-the-end-of-her-tether wife, Margaret, complete with in character cough. They are soon followed by a French art dealer, Pierre Marceau with a nice line in forgeries, accompanied by the decorative Elizabeth double-barreled name but each has a different and dubious past. Cliff Munday and Nikki Saunders obviously enjoyed their roles and showed great skill in slipping effortlessly from their posh persona to revert to their common, cockney, criminal characters.

Once Miss Maple (sic) gatecrashes the party, even the host is concerned that the bodies will start piling up, as Maple's reputation goes before her. Annie Deeley plays Miss Maple and has the audience in fits, whether sitting on her knitting needles, offering theories of whodunit or gate crashing the dinner. All of the characters deliver some outrageous innuendo as they look at the audience as if they're not quite sure if what they've just said is rude or not. Miss Maple excels in her comedy brief as she explains to another character, and of course to the audience, that chums of her cricket-loving nephew tell her he's a bent left-hander.

The guests are all instantly recognisable, each drawn from the book of Agatha Christie clichs, with a wealth of dirty secrets, hidden agendas, criminal interests and false identities.

We are then treated to a classic comedy double act from the long arm of the law as the aptly named Inspector Pratt arrives on the scene. Martin Pennycott revels in the visual comedy as he throws himself around the stage and delivers lines that go beyond spoonerisms as the thick plottens. John Cranwell plays his sidekick, the hapless Constable Thomkins, who is in more danger from his superior than from any criminal and John uses his experience to make long suffering very funny, although he is (literally) shot in the foot.

The set and presentation were up to the usual GADS standard and would have done a professional production proud and the show was great fun for all those who have taken part in a Murder Mystery night or just love the closed world of the country house murder mystery.

I am sure the audience, who were as amused by the acting as they were bemused by the Byzantine plot will agree that it would have been a crime to miss it.

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