Reviewed by Paul Davies
This is a good play, there’s a lot to like in it. It’s funny, well crafted, and for the theatre-nut there’s plenty of Coward in-jokes, even bits of Shakespeare hidden about the place. Up to and including a bloke playing a wall!
A murder in a remote country house with everyone a suspect, the plot is really secondary sometimes. The whole point is surely to show off the comic and acting abilities of the cast.
Director Mike Phillips has, from reading the biog. notes in the programme re-instated more than his share of lapsed thesps for this production, and unfortunately it showed on opening night. I felt as though we could really have used another week or two of rehearsal. There were laughs trodden on, lines forgotten, cues picked up far too slowly, and many of the Cowardisms missed. –An occasional rolled r only pointed out the lack elsewhere for me.
A shining light in this production however was Emma O’Connell-Docherty. Her manic over-acting was by far the best thing in the play, I tried to start a round-of-applause after her interpretive dance piece; -Sorry I couldn’t make it catch! Even lying dead-drunk on the floor she managed to upstage. –Maybe a bit naughty, but forgivable!
For the rest, I think Coward, and this, always benefit from getting into a higher gear or two, or three. Speed would forgive a lot.
Attention to detail was missing in too many places, -I thought the furniture was going to collapse. Shoes that didn’t fit. And plastic brandy glasses: Really! –I may have only noticed the tip of the iceberg.