Murder by the Book – Tea Tree Players

Murder by the Book – Tea Tree Players

If you like fast-paced, tongue twisting clever dialogue and creativity with words, puns and black comedy with a dramatic murder mystery twist, then you will love “Murder by the Book” performed by Tea Tree Players. The audience laughed often at the witty repartee. At interval they stayed in their seats discussing the plot, trying to work out who is telling the truth and who was fabricating and orchestrating the murder drama unfolding.

This play was directed by first time director Ashlee Brown, mentored by Mike Phillips.

Paul Pacillo as Peter Fletcher, amateur sleuth, was the standout. His acting style was quick but relaxed and perfectly measured. Veronica Angelo’s Christine was an excellent foil for Benjamin Forster, as Selwyn Piper, the murder mystery author and manipulator.

When Imogen first appeared in disguise, we had difficulty hearing her. However, when Enya Shay as the “real” Imogen Piper sashayed out with full control of her confident cocky character and life, she was loud and proud.

Tim Cousins was Selwyn’s publisher John Douglas, who played the cuckold very well. His facial expressions as always are very expressive of his character’s emotions.

Beth Venning’s Props were amazing – a real typewriter, green dial telephone, set of encyclopaedias, and many many glasses and bottles of whiskey, brandy and champagne. The costumes are suitably 60s or 70s and I loved Peter’s wide piano tie.

The song “Masochism Tango”, which was played in the intervals, was very appropriate to the play which was also abruptly performed, similar to a tango dance. A genius idea, probably from Mike Phillips or Zach Britton, who were responsible for lights, sound design and operation.

The synopsis of the play, without giving away too much, is as follows: Selwyn Pike, criminal writer, is trying to write his next successful book. Christine, his secretary, is typing the manuscript. Peter, his next door neighbour, turns out to be a fan and an amateur detective who tries to solve his murder. Mrs Imogen Piper comes in at an inappropriate time. And John Douglas, Selwyn’s publisher is also fully involved in the intrigue, although he often plays the innocent. Who is having an affair with whom? There are corpses and twists galore. A classic who-dun-it which turns into “Who is telling the truth?” Who will die next and why? Why not?!

I noted a few of the many clever and funny quotes:  “You have two things in common with Mona Lisa, you are beautiful and you have been framed.” You’ll find out who said that to whom. And “sticking out like a penguin in a lineup of nuns.!” I think that the best quote was “to use shallow jokes to hide deeper emotions”, which was also reflective of the play.

So get along to Tea Tree Players to see this performance. it’s on until 1st June 2024.

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