Peter Gordon.

Theatre Royal To 12 February 2011.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 5pm & 8pm Mat Wed 2pm.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval. 7.30pm weekdays, 5pm and 8pm (Matinee 2.00pm Weds).

Tkts 0115 989 5555.
Review: Alan Geary: 7 February 2011.

It’s better than ever.

You can’t always be worrying about the economy and global warming. In a cheerful move Colin McIntyre and Co are back at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal with the hit of last summer’s Thriller Season. Murdered to Death has returned for just one week.

It’s better than ever.

There are three cast changes. Jo Castleton is replaced in the part of apparently high-society Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington – “apparently” because some of those vowels seem a trifle common – by accomplished newcomer Rebecca Tanwen. Mildred is played this time by Valerie Holliman, and Margaret Craddock is Thriller Season old-stager Samantha Sanns. In an evening with no weak links all three are excellent.

It’s not just a send-up of Christieland. Stocker than stock characters have to deliver some shameless innuendo. They look at the audience as if they’re not quite sure of the rectitude of what’s just been uttered. Miss Maple (played by Karen Henson, always a joy in dotty roles) explains to Colonel Craddock (Adrian Lloyd-James) that chums of her cricket-loving nephew – he was earlier tied up with a gentleman friend – tell her he’s a bent left-hander. The Colonel, complete with plus fours and bluster, looks on, full realisation of what he’s heard visibly dawning.

Nicholas Briggs, crucial as the bungling Inspector Pratt, is wonderful at conveying the child-like cunning of his character, the vanity and deeper than deep insecurity. Briggs’ timing, expressions and text delivery are superb. He has a silly moustache, he never comes near to getting on top of the case, and his speech is cluttered with malapropisms and sundry disasters – “Do you recall what you called when you were calling?” or “the thick plottens”.

Both Pratt and “faithful family container” Bunting the Butler (John Hester) are locked into literalisms: Pratt because of his truncated intelligence, Bunting because he’s in charge. Jeremy Lloyd Thomas is back with his outrageous stage French accent and, at one point, a beret; Patric Kearns is again Thompkins the plod, notwithstanding the regional accent, the intellectual centre of proceedings.

Peter Gordon has written an extra tweedy parody of your inter-war country-house murder and made it into brilliant comedy.

Mildred: Valerie Holliman.
Dorothy: Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Bunting: John Hester.
Colonel Charles Craddock: Adrian Lloyd-James.
Margaret Craddock: Samantha Sanns.
Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington: Rebecca Tanwen.
Pierre Marceau: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Joan Maple: Karen Henson.
Constable Thompkins: Patric Kearns.
Inspector Pratt: Nicholas Briggs.

Director: Colin McIntyre.
Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Lighting: Michael Donoghue.
Sound: Patric Kearns.
Music: Toby Robinson.

2011-02-10 00:28:15

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