DEATH BY FATAL MURDER
by Peter Gordon.
Theatre Royal Theatre Square NG1 5ND To 16 June 2012.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 8pm Mat Sat 5pm.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0115 989 5555.
Review: Alan Geary 11 June 2012.
A sleuth spoof. Outstanding fun.
What with the titular double tautology, some people might sense that Death by Fatal Murder is going to be a spoof. If so they’ll sense aright: this is an outrageous parody of the Golden Age Christie whodunit. From Peter Gordon, it’s a sequel to his Murdered to Death. It’s not up to the standard of the original; nevertheless it’s very funny.
A hit at last summer’s Thriller Season, same venue, this time it’s tighter and even more enjoyable than first time round. Inspector Pratt’s tendency to lurch from one desperate malapropism or misunderstanding to another is overdone, and the plot is shaggy far beyond credibility, but it’s hugely entertaining.
There’s one cast change. Instead of Patric Kearns as Constable Thomkins, token working-class character and the play’s intellectual powerhouse, we get Al Naed, who’s utterly at home in the part.
Karen Henson is back as tweedy eccentric Miss Maple, complete with knitting and forbiddingly thick stockings; Jo Castleton is again strangely fetching as Ginny Farquhar, the county type with a laugh like a horse and hacking jacket and jodhpurs to match. Jeremy Lloyd Thomas, playing female medium Blodwyn Morgan, gets to do an OTT Welsh valleys accent. He doesn’t camp it up: he merely plays a woman, rather well.
Arguably Sarah Wynne Kordas has the hardest job. Her Nancy Allwright is less of a grotesque than the other characters; and as she sits observing the goings-on she has to make us read her mind. She has skeletons insecurely locked in the cupboard, she’s anxious lest her bedroom business with one of the others should come to light, and, even more than the others, she’s mesmerised by the Inspector’s antics.
Nick Briggs is Pratt. It’s not just his malapropisms: he could win prizes for his spoonerisms too. Briggs brilliantly observes the insecurity, the cowardly pretentiousness, the prudishness and the vanity of his man; he acts with his whole body, from eyebrows to toes.
The play’s worth seeing just for the appalling scene where Pratt’s talking incomprehensibly with his mouth full and spraying bits of biscuit all over Constable Thomkins.
Constable Atkins: Geoff Gilder.
Nancy Allwright: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Ginny Farquhar: Jo Castleton.
Constable Thomkins: Al Naed.
Inspector Pratt: Nicholas Briggs.
Miss Joan Maple: Karen Henson.
Blodwyn Morgan: Dolly May Jesterhom.
Enzo Garibaldi: John Hester.
Squadron Leader Roger (Stiffy) Allwright: Chris Sheridan.
Director: Adrian Lloyd-James.
Designer/Costume: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Michael Donoghue.
Sound: David Gilbrook.