THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer,Henry Shields.
Tour to 12 July.
then Duchess Theatre 3-5 Catherine Street WC2B 5LA.
5 Sept-1 Feb 2015.
Wed-Sat & 23, 30 Dec 7.30pm Sun 7pm Mat Thu, Sat & 23, 30, 31 Dec 2.30pm, Sun 3pm.
no perf 25, 26 Dec, 1 Jan.
TICKETS: 0844 412 4659 (London performances).
Runs 1hr 5min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 May at Royal and Derngate (Royal auditorium).
Manifold mistakes of a night manifested with accomplishment.
It isn’t really the play that goes wrong. ‘Murder at Haversham Manor’ goes through its paces efficiently as an outlandishly-plotted piece of cosy entertainment, serving up the expected dish of an affluent lifestyle with the cold thrill of danger experienced safely from stalls, or circle, in two well-constructed acts either side of the ice-cream. Those who find Agatha Christie’s plots fiendishly unconventional will feel at home.
It’s the production that’s at fault. Though not mainly Cornley Polytechnic Dramatic Society’s acting. True, their inexperience is blatant when they have to remove an unconscious body, that’s not supposed to be a ‘body’, from the stage, and there is a certain lack of variety in their vocal delivery.
Yet, though techie Trevor despairs at times, in the way techies have towards actors, he’s the one whose ill-timed sound cues (in particular, though his lighting’s hardly blameless) have the cast enDuran Duran (you have to see the show) embarrassing moments.
No; what mainly scuppers things is the set. There’s a delightful irony in finding it was constructed by Oldham’s Splinter Scenery Ltd. For that describes pretty well how it finishes-up.
The show is a bit like Bertolt Brecht’s A Respectable Wedding without the social satire, or Michael Frayn’s Noises Off without the philosophical overtones or backstage complications.
It’s a show where everyone will have their hilarious moments and bits that possibly worked less well – I loved the miscue which left one actor answering questions the other hadn’t yet put – even flinching from a slap that only came along moments later. And the miscue which led a group of actors to repeat the section of dialogue they’d just done – while finding the multiple, speeding-up repetitions of the scene less funny.
No period is specified, though Polytechnics haven’t been around for years, and it’s doubtful they’d have done such shows when they were. But this company brings a due earnestness to matters, often creating laughter by contrasting hectic emergencies against rock-stolid delivery of lines, or taking stock comic devices in fresh directions, and to new lengths. A knockout show – literally for some cast members.
Chris Bean (Director/Inspector Carter): Henry Shields.
Jonathan Harris (Charles Haversham): Greg Tannahill.
Robert Grove (Thomas Collymore): Henry Lewis.
Dennis Tyde (Perkins): Jonathan Sayer.
Sandra Wilkinson (Florence Colleymore): Charlie Russell.
Max Bennett (Cecil Haversham): Dave Hearn.
Annie Twilloil: Nancy Wallinger.
Trevor Watson (Lighting/Sound Operator): Rob Falconer.
Director: Mark Bell.
Designer: Nigel Hook.
Lighting: Ric Mountjoy.
Music: Rob Falconer.
Voice coach: Judith Phillips.
Fight director: Jonathan Waller.
12-17 May 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Thu 2.30pm BSL Signed Thu 7.45pm Royal & Derngate (Royal auditorium) Northampton 01604 624811 www.royalandderngate.co.uk
19-24 May 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm BSL Signed Wed Cambridge Arts Theatre 01223 503333 www.cambridgeartstheatre.com
26-31 May Mon-Wed 7.30pm Thu-Sat 8pm Mat Thu 2.30pm Sat 4pm Bath Theatre Royal 01225 448844 www.theatreroyal.org.uk
17-21 June 7.30pm Mat Thu 2pm Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Fri Darlington Civic Theatre 01325 486555 www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk
23-28 June 8pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Palace Theatre Westcliff-on-Sea 01702 351135 www.southendtheatres.org.uk
30 June-5 July 7.45pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Devonshire Park Theatre 01323 412000 www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk
7-12 July 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm >Grand Theatre Leeds 0844 848 2700 www.leedsgrandtheatre.com