BA reviews Murdered to Death by Peter Gordon at the Grand Opera House, York.


Murdered to Death
A Review

Grand Opera House

Bumbling good fun

Now when a play goes on national tour everything has to be pristine to succeed. First the producers have to make sure that the scenery lasts the duration of the run and the most important, that the actors are up to the job. Martin Dodd and Peter Frosdick got the production right in this staging of Peter Gordon’s farcical “who done it” Murdered to Death with a neat functional set which the actors used with great effect to get the fun from the script. Andy Batty the production manager and designer Charles Camm also share in the appreciation. Julian Woolford got the characters in the right place at the right time and to make the whole run smoothly.

The time is the 1930’s and the place the lounge of a country manor house, all typical stuff for a send up of an Agatha Christie play. The characters are what you would expect to find in such a situation. We have people who are not what they appear to be, a butler, a colonel and of course a “Miss Maple”. The spelling of the name gives a clue as to what is to come, for when the inevitable murder is committed the local constabulary send their best man with his faithful constable. Unfortunately best does not apply to his detecting abilities, but to his application of malapropism as he delivers his lines and innuendoes. The part of the word confused inspector is made for Trevor Bannister, who plays the hapless inspector Pratt with perfection, leaving the audience wondering how he managed to remember so many wrong words to great effect. Richard Ellis plays constable Thomkins, Pratt’s rather more intelligent aide, who always seems to get the worst of things. Geoffrey Davies is just right as the colonel as is Anna Karen as Joan Maple, both giving their parts what the author wanted. Nicholas Smith as Bunting, the butler, knew exactly what was wanted of him and played the part beautifully. The rest of the cast worked as a team to make the play just what the appreciative audience wanted. One rarity that occurred on stage was that the every word could be heard with clarity, something other companies could take note of.

To sum up, a great night out was had by all. Go to see this play if it comes your way, it’s better than watching television. © BA

“Murdered to Death” is in York on the 2nd to the 7th September, 2002 and then continues an extensive tour of Britain.

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