East Dean Players
On Friday November 17, the curtain opened on a realistic interior set from the 1930s; well-lit, and with all the necessary entrances and exits strategically placed for confusion and deceit.
Peter Gordon’s play Murdered To Death was published in 2003, with characters deliberately based on whodunnit stereotypes, and skilfully kills off several characters (or were they?) while, at the same time, producing laugh after laugh.
We are, inevitably, in a large manor house, and the assorted guests of Mildred and her niece Dorothy include a stuffy Colonel with wife Margaret, and later a stunner wearing a dazzling hat accompanied by her French boyfriend. Clearly derived from one of Agatha’s female detectives is the uninvited guest, Miss Maple, who tries to bring a breath of sanity to the proceedings. The belligerent Butler annoys them all.
This sort of comedy is by no means easy to bring off. Director Marilynne Sharpin had inspired cracking performances which were sustained throughout all four scenes. Too fast and lines are lost. Too slow and the humour never develops. In East Dean the pace was spot-on. In addition the relationships of character to character were clearly delineated, even if some of what was being said was deceitful. If there was one small criticism it was that (so I was told) a few moments were lost at the back of the hall because an occasional line was not quite loud enough.
Of special note was the amusing relationship between the two police-officers. The bumptious Inspector has been well-named (Pratt), and long-suffering but loyal Constable Tompkins drew all our sympathy.
I am concious of the necessity not to give too much away, so I shall confine my remarks to saying that every player contributed to a truly successful and entertaining evening. Well done: Janet Sorrell, Jane Bryant, Roger Trace, Christine Fuller, Steve Darvill, Polly McGrane, Chris Bekker, Cheryl Veitch, Adrian Sharpin and Camber Sands. Well done too Stage Manager John Dann and his backstage crew. As ever, the front-of-house staff made one feel welcome, and the free coffee-and-bics in the interval were well up to standard.
By Robin Gregory.